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Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story | King's Head Theatre

Princess Diana’s story has been told over and over, even taking the form of a Broadway musical. But what if she were allowed to tell her own story? What if there were cardboard cutouts and puppets and a content warning for Camilla Parker-Bowles? And what if very little of it were true? In Awkward ProductionsDiana: The Untold and Untrue Story, writer, director and producer Linus Karp appears as Diana, presenting a heavily queer, intensely chaotic fictionalised account of her life, enhanced with multimedia, puppetry and original music from Wez Maddocks

Those familiar with the real version of events will recognise some key points and catch-phrases, most notably Charles’ “whatever ‘in love’ means” gaff, which is regularly riffed on throughout the show. But anyone looking for a stage version of The Crown would be sorely disappointed. Instead, Awkward Productions have created a show so chaotic that when an overenthusiastic sex scene required a replacement cutout of Prince Charles to be brought on mid-show, I genuinely wondered if it was intentional (Karp’s remarks in his post-show speech suggested not, but his excellent ad-libbing transformed it from accident to punchline). 

After an award-winning run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the show has clearly already gathered something of a fanbase, and it isn’t hard to see why. Karp is enigmatic and hilarious as Diana, eagerly pulling the audience along for this crazy ride. Karp tells the audience that there are actually three people in this solo show, although he is often the only actor physically onstage. Stage manager, co-director and producer Joseph Martin provides the voices of Charles, Camilla and others, as well as puppetry which is one of the chaotic highlights of the show. 

Geri Allen also appears via video footage (designed and edited by Daniel Boylett with videography from Dave Bird) as the late Queen, very much alive and, thanks to obsessive checking of her pocket watch, aware of how much longer for. This iteration of the Queen has more than a touch of Elizabeth I from Blackadder, ordering members of the audience to be killed for speaking over her and demanding to perform Charles and Diana’s wedding ceremony herself. 

The show also has a large ensemble cast who have been volunteered for their roles by Karp and Martin from the audience. These roles range from reading a line or two aloud to crawling around the stage barking like a corgi (a role performed to perfection by Unnamed Audience Member). And while some of these ‘volunteers’ discussed their participation before the show started, I wouldn’t recommend sitting in the front row if the idea of being chosen makes you want to curl into a ball and cry. One woman, when trying to pass over a toy baby to another audience member, was fixed with a grim stare by Karp. “No,” he said. “You.” This audience participation means that the show will be slightly different every performance, depending on how well they take to their roles, and this only adds to the hilarity of the event. 

A glorious fever dream of a show, Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story is certain to become a new favourite for anyone who delights in chaos, comedy and queerness.

Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story runs at King’s Head Theatre until 5th May. For more information and tickets, follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Dave Bird


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