Untrue Diana by Linus Karp at The Pleasance Theatre

After his cabaret success A Jellicle Life (a Power-Point ode to the musical film flop Cats) and a trip to the hairdresser Linus Karp is back: The best and bravest prop for his next car crash of fandom celebration (pun not initially intentional) is his Princess Diana’s hairstyle – the one from the era when most boomers wanted Meg Ryan’s hair gel-supported crops. Dare requesting that in 2022! And now for the only just kicked-off tour, Linus is no one else but Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, Queen of Hearts.  

The Royal Name Generator defines me as Honourable Icon – I’d like the “of Mordor” please

Choosing my seat downstairs at The Pleasance, I think I jumped the gun when not receiving a character enactment card; I don’t end up as Di’s mum or dad, and neither as a gay scientist, a landmine or a corgi to name a few options. Growing up in the 1960s, Diana’s first royal encounters (Prince Charles appears as a talking cut-out while his mother, the Queen speaks projected on a screen) we follow her biography up to her truly majestic wedding in 1981. But there is a flea in this supposed fairytale, that fighter puppet Camilla Parker-Bowles: Linus’ untrue Diana is not a monodrama. Politically correct or not, even I feel and fear her blow as I have been asked on stage to nanny a very bald baby Wills doll: The divorce in 1996 is inevitable. What follows is a new life for Diana, away from London with Paris as a new main location, balanced strangely between luxury and charitable causes – the audience is now simultaneously fans and paparazzi. 

Immerse yourself in taking paparazzi / fan pictures

Just when I think the toxic yellow press could have done with a lot more bashing, headlines from an alternative universe (where Lady Di holds the key to Heaven), celebrate “Diana stops Brexit”. And then, amongst Paddington Bear, even God makes an appearance. Sometimes vulgar but never not loveable, Diana – The Untold And Untrue Story works also for outspoken non-royalists who skipped the recent royal Kirsten Stewart and Olivia Colman enactments.  Extended here at the Pleasance Theatre even before its opening night, this show is surely an immerdiate fringe hit.

On the way home, the capital’s newspaper headlines celebrate Charles’ birthday. Bets are on what national treasure received the Linus treatment next. 

The show tour only just started and its London run has already been extended – if you cannot make it, watch it online in Spring 2023

**** out of 5 stars

Written and performed by Linus Karp

Played at the Pleasance Theatre in November, tickets from £12. The UK tour continues, and Diana returns to London in April 2023.

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