Bristol Theatre Reviews

Diana the Untold and Untrue Story Alma Theatre Bristol

Was Diana the Untold and Untrue Story inspired by the fact that creator Linus Karp, bears an uncanny resemblance to Diana when wearing an 80’s wig?

It doesn’t matter, for this hour long riot of a show currently selling out the Alma Theatre in Bristol this week, is one long laugh. It’s utterly bonkers yet somehow heartwarming and life affirming.

For a creative who is unlikely to have been born when Diana was alive, Karp brings the much-loved former member of the Royal Family to life in a very accurate way, particularly capturing her facial expressions as well as costumes and killer black dress.

It’s a risky subject matter. The recent death of the Queen, brought out a surprisingly level of love for the Royals. Diana in particular appears to be the one untouchable member despite dying in 1997. Karp doesn’t shy away from anything in this show, including landmines, the tunnel and the ticking down fob watch of the Queen.

With a surprisingly strong storyline, the untold, untrue story, manages to grasp the cultural importance and media storm that surrounded Diana through the 80’s and 90’s and her lasting impact. The biopic follows Diana from her birth, to meeting Charles and the looming monster of Camilla before ending somewhere between Paris and heaven. Of course, the actual chain of events takes a lot of artistic license despite a nod to what actually happened.

Diana’s legacy extended far beyond her royal duties, with the show exploring culturally significant moments such as her time in Cambodia or shaking hands with people with HIV/Aids. Does it sound in poor taste? Yes. But it works on stage thanks to Linus’ performance.

The Queen appears regularly on screen, played by an actor bearing an uncanny resemblance to Olivia Coleman playing the Queen in The Crown.

The many other supporting characters are played by the audience, in a high participation show that includes a corgi, landmine, William and Harry and a very wooden Prince Charles.

One of Karp’s biggest talents is bringing an earnest sincerity to the performances he creates no matter how utterly bizarre the subject matter. Whether it’s the Queen of Hearts or a Jellicle Cat, you’re never quite sure if he genuinely loves the subject matter or loves sending it up. He has a strong grasp of British cultural history, which makes whatever he works on next an exciting prospect.

With music, parody, puppetry, fun animation and a lot of queer love, this is a brilliant show.

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  • Since writing this review, it has come to our attention that Linus Karp is not wearing a wig in the show. The magnificent recreation of Diana’s haircut is in fact his own hair. We would like to extend our apologies to Linus’ hair.