‘Who could she possibly want revenge on,’ ponders Linus Karp as drag show takes aim in Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story

Shooting from the lip: Linus Karp’s Diana telling untold untruths in Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story. Picture: Dave Bird

DO you know the story of Diana, Princess of Wales? Probably. But do you know writer-performer Linus Karp’s story of Diana?

“We very much doubt it,” says Linus, Swedish-born artistic director of Awkward Productions, the harbingers of theatrical chaos responsible for the revenge comedy Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story.

On tour at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York on February 3 and 4, this humorous, if tasteless, celebration of the people’s princess finds 6ft Iin Linus’s Diana in heaven as she shares the untold and untrue tale of her extraordinary life through a combustible combination of drag, multimedia, audience interaction, puppetry and “a lot of queer joy”.

Definitely not a Royal verité show, Diana marks Linus’s return to Monkgate, where he performed How To Live A Jellicle Life: Life Lessons From The 2019 Hit Movie Musical ‘Cats’, last February. “I had such a good time, I simply had to come back,” he says.

Linus Karp in the poster for last year’s tour show, How To Live A Jellicle Life

Here, Linus Karp discusses Diana, drag, truths and untruths with CharlesHutchPress

How did this latest performance at Theatre@41, Monkgate, come about?

“Alan [Park], who runs the venue, has been calling me daily to get me to come back. I finally said ‘yes’. It was a bit much really, but he is a sweetie, so why not?!”

What attracted you to the figure of Diana, Princess of Wales, who, like Marilyn Monroe, has never been allowed to rest peacefully?

“Probably just that – how today she is more myth and legend than an actual human who lived. It’s a very interesting thing to explore.”

Linus Karp’s Diana in a scene from Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story with a cardboard cut-out Prince Charles. Picture: Dave Bird

Does that mean venturing into the Untrue is inevitable or is it a chance for mischief-making on your part?

“If one had to stick to the truth, most stories would be a lot more boring. I don’t want the audience to know what’s coming next – there are more interesting ways to tell a story than to show what actually happened.”

Have you had to deal with libel laws? Scrap that, you can’t libel the dead, can you, but you can label them. Discuss…

“Diana had a great sense of humour and I’m convinced she’d enjoy the show and the loving way she’s portrayed.”

Do you buy into any of the conspiracy theories surrounding her death?

“Not really, except for that she lives on the moon with Elvis. That’s a fact.”

“Diana was an outsider who dared to speak her mind and go against her powerful husband and his family,” says writer-performer Linus Karp. Picture: Dave Bird

Where might a gun and a knife fit into the show?

“Well that would be giving out spoilers – but who could Diana possibly want revenge on…?”

What makes Diana ripe for a drag act?

“Drag is a queer performance form and Diana is a queer icon. Not only was she a glamourous and stylish woman who, despite her fame and privilege, was an outsider who dared to speak her mind and go against her powerful husband and his family, but she also had famous friendships with queer legends like Elton John, Gianni Versace and Freddie Mercury.

“Most importantly, she really helped shape the narrative around AIDS, showing that its victims are worthy of love and human affection. Her stance and bold support of AIDS and HIV victims have improved countless queer lives.

“Becoming a drag act is a big compliment, and though I’m obviously not the first, I am surprised there aren’t more drag Dianas.”

Diana in heaven: A drawing for Linus Karp’s show

Diana died (August 31 1997) before you were born (November 16 1999). What has led to your fascination with her?

“First of all: yes, I’m very young. I would have to thank my legend of a mother-in-law who really helped me step up my Diana interest to the next level.”

What do you enjoy about writing and performing a solo show?

“Mainly getting the chance to go to York and to be interviewed – even when the interviewer shares a first name with the antagonist of the story.”

What are your principal assets as a performer? London Pub Theatres reckon you are “naturally funny”. Or maybe is it that you are a waif-like chameleon, David Bowie style?

“Some people say I’m not just a pretty face. I disagree.”

Linus Karp: Swedish-born actor, drag act, writer and artistic director. Picture: Conor Harris

Last November, you ran a workshop at The Pleasance, London, on creating, funding, producing, marketing and performing a solo show and the unique challenges that come with it. What were the biggest challenges of putting together Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story?

“Money. The trickiest thing about making theatre is always making it work financially. The margins are always tight; even a production that does well rarely makes much profit and putting on a show is always a big financial risk.

“Making sure we support independent, new and diverse voices is key. We don’t want a landscape where only those with money or big companies can afford to create theatre.”

“If one had to stick to the truth, most stories would be a lot more boring,” says Linus, with a message for any naysayers. Picture: Dave Bird

As a Swede, what drew you to performing in Britain?

“My Diana references just wouldn’t land as well on a Swedish audience. I simply had to move.”

What’s your next project/production?

“I don’t know yet as I’m going to make the most of being Lady Di for as long as I can – but I promise it will be equally stupid, queer and joyful.”

What is there left to be told that hasn’t been told before?

“Trans rights are human rights and the Tories are destroying the country.”

Awkward Productions present Linus Karp in Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, February 3 and 4, 7.30pm.Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Back story: Linus Karp tells all about his drag princess to CharlesHutchPress. Picture: Dave Hird

More Things To Do in York and beyond as 2023’s shoots start to poke through. Hutch’s List No. 3, courtesy of The Press

Linus Karp: Invitation to join Diana in heaven as she shares the untold and untrue tale of her extraordinary life at Theatre@41. Picture: Dave Bird

FROM a drag Diana to a DIY staging of Harry Potter, synth pop turned symphonic to a long-running Agatha Christie mystery, Charles Hutchinson goes in search of entertainment new and old.

Royal verité show? Probably not! Linus Karp in Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, February 3 and 4, 7.30pm

DO you know the story of Diana? Probably. But do you know writer-performer Linus Karp’s  story of Diana? “We very much doubt it,” say Awkward Productions, the harbingers of theatrical chaos responsible for this humorous, if tasteless, celebration of the people’s princess.

Join Diana in heaven as she shares the untold and untrue tale of her extraordinary life through a combination of drag, multimedia, audience interaction, puppetry and “a lot of queer joy”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Sketch of Lendal and street in progress by Steve Beadle, one of the Navigators Art artists exhibiting at Helmsley Arts Centre

Exhibition of the week: Navigators Art, Moving Pictures II, at Helmsley Arts Centre, until March 3; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am to 3pm; Thursdays, 11am to 3pm, and during event opening times

YORK collective Navigators Art are represented by seven artists at Helmsley: Kai Amafé, prints and 3D work; Steve Beadle, paintings and drawings; Michael Dawson, paintings; Richard Kitchen, prints and collages; Katie Lewis, textiles and paintings; Timothy Morrison, constructions, and Peter Roman, paintings.

“The title Moving Pictures is deliberately open to interpretation by the audience as well as the artists,” says co-founder Richard Kitchen, who will be stewarding an 11am to 3pm open day tomorrow (15/1/2023). Exhibition entry is free.

Textile art by Katie Lewis, another of the Navigators Art artists on show in Moving Pictures II at Helmsley Arts Centre

Fundraiser of the week: White Rose Theatre in A Gala Night (and day) Of Musical Theatre, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

THE Katie Ventress School of Dance, York Musical Theatre Company and guest soloists will be accompanied by a band under the musical direction of John Atkin in these uplifting gala concerts to blow away the post-Christmas blues.

Favourites from Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar and Anything Goes are promised. All proceeds will go to the JoRo’s Raise The Roof campaign. Box office for the last few tickets: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Electrifying Eighties: Calling Planet Earth gives a symphonic coating to Duran Duran and co

Nostalgia of the week: Calling Planet Earth, A New Romantic Symphony, York Barbican, January 21, 8pm

A NEW Romantic Symphony heads out on a journey through the electrifying Eighties to revisit the songs of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, The Human League, Ultravox, Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Japan, ABC, Soft Cell and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

Symphonic arrangements combine with “stunning vocals” in a parade of hits that defined a decade. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Pottervision: Lukas Kirkby and Tom Lawrinson re-create first film Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone with DIY props, wigs and charity-shop costumes

Magic with mayhem? Pottervision, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 10, 7.45pm

LUKAS Kirkby and Tom Lawrinson gather up DIY props, charity-shop costumes and wizarding wigs for their “ridiculous re-creation” of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, staged with multiple role-playing and limited resources after two fellow performers drop out.

What could possibly go wrong?! Find out in Pottervision, a fantastical spectacular for casual fan and avid squib alike. Please note: suitable for age 16 upwards on account of adult language and dark humour. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.

Miles & The Chain Gang: New single to promote at Alne Village Hall

Back on the Chain Gang: Alne Music Club presents Miles & The Chain Gang, Alne Village Hall, Main  Street, Alne, February 11, 7.30pm

YORK band Miles & The Chain Gang head to their first gig of the year with an imminent new single in their locker, Charlie. Recorded last September at Young Thugs Studio in York, it features Miles Salter, guitar and vocals, Tim Bruce, bass, Daniel Bowater, keyboards, Steve Purton, drums, and Mat Watt, guitar.

“We’re filming the video in the next few days with our video guru Dave Thorp,” says Salter. Tickets: from  d.lepper27@btinternet.com or on 01347 838114. 

Dimitra Ananiadou: Violinist to peform recital with pianist Richard Whalley at NCEM

Take a bow: Dimitra Ananiadou & Richard Whalley, A Travel Through Time, National Centre for Early Music, York, February 25, 7pm

DIMITRA Ananiadou returns to York to travel back in time for a violin recital that explores the creation of Baroque, classical and 20th century music with the aid of her special bows.

Composer and pianist Richard Whalley will be accompanying her on the journey through JS Bach’s Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor (Ciaccona), Niccolò Paganini’s Caprice for Solo Violin No. 24 Op. 1, Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op. 30 No. 2 and Fritz Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Gaetano Pugnani. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Todd Carty: Playing Major Metcalf in 70th anniversary tour of The Mousetrap

Mystery play in York:The Mousetrap, Grand Opera House, March 6 to 11, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

AGATHA Christie’s mystery The Mousetrap, “the longest running play in the world”, takes in more than 70 venues on its 70th anniversary tour, including a return to York’s Grand Opera House.

EastEnders’ duo Todd Carty, as Major Metcalf, and Gwyneth Strong, as Mrs Boyle, feature in Ian Talbot’s cast for this tale of intrigue and suspense set at Monkswell Manor, a stately countryside guesthouse where seven strangers find themselves snowed in as news spreads of a murder in London. When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst. Whodunnit? Box office: atgtickets.com/York.