The royal affair that is Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, is the most unhinged piece of theatre in existence. Raucously funny and overly ridiculous, this reimagining is as iconic as Princess Di herself. This exercise of overexaggeration is incredibly meta in its use of our own knowledge of real-life events against us, as it mocks our expectations and recreates events as if Princess Diana were narrating them herself.
The most unhinged piece of theatre in existence
Using the audience to take on additional roles, Princess Diana (Linus Karp) takes us through the events of her life, from her very birth and marriage to Prince Charles (Joseph Martin), and imagines her life beyond that ill-fated tunnel in Paris. This show continually uses stereotypes and preconceived notions on everyone from the Queen to Princess Diana herself to show how harmful and binary media narratives about Princess Diana are.
Making fun of the public’s obsession with Lady Diana whilst still being sympathetic about how it affected her, Karp plays on tropes and pop culture that serve to illustrate the independent spirit of Princess Di. The overexaggerated, chaotic and self-aware nature of this show enhances notable pop culture moments with Karp’s own unique twist. So much shade is thrown at the establishment that we cannot help but be thoroughly entertained. It’s a show that contradicts itself, in that it presents itself as a fantasy, but has so much reality in it that it’s hard not to want to accept it as how events actually played out. The many little details that depend on the audience’s knowledge of the Royal Family add to its nonsensical nature, and only a genius with a touch of madness could make this show have the effect that it does. Only someone with Karp’s level of talent could pull it off.
Truly the people's Princess, Karp’s performance is enhanced by Amy Pitt’s designs which recreates some of Diana’s most notable looks, from her wedding to revenge dress. The way in which Karp uses the various props adds layers to the show. We are told that it’s a recreation, but the added reality of the sequence of events makes their appearance all the funnier. It’s hard to believe that we are seeing exactly what is happening onstage, mainly because it is quite insane, and uses so many different elements to both mock and comment on the media’s obsession with Lady Diana. Everything that Karp does in this show comes with a slight wink and a nudge, making us both a part of the joke and the joke itself. His portrayal of Lady Diana very much shows us that the English rose has thorns. A special commendation goes to Martin for his performance as Camilla. Some things you just can’t unsee, and going forward his characterisation of her is the only one that should be accepted.
Whether it’s playing with our preconceived notions about the royal family, or making fun of conspiracy theories, this show is the most entertaining media about the monarchy that exists so far. A show where the laughter is literally non-stop, Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story is a must-see for everyone. A marvelous example of the talent of Linus Karp and Awkward Prods, this show is a ringing endorsement for anything that they do in the future.