DIVA: Live From Hell! ★★★★ The TurbineTheatre | Aug 17 - Sep 3, 2022

What's in a name? That of Desmond Channing invokes the spirits of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and of Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve. Indeed, the story of Diva is loosely based on the latter film, and the character of Desmond, newly elected president of the drama club at Ronald Reagan High School, is an outrageously comic take on all the great dames of the theatre. The arch, narcissistic and bitchy would-be star of the school's production of The Pirates of Penzance is wonderfully captured by Luke Bayer whose over-the-top performance is a thorough delight. He mugs and camps it up throughout the show, throwing everything he has into this wild little parody. He sings and tap dances while playing all the characters, from the obtuse drama teacher, Mr. Dallas, through Desmond's insecure accomplice, Allie Hewitt, to his rival and nemesis, Evan Harris. We loved his great throwaway lines and the constant inside references to life in the theatre. It is all great fun until the conclusion when the show seems to change genre, suddenly evoking the dark 'humour' of American Psycho rather than the lighter touch of the diva dramas. For us, the dénouement was incongruous and a little uncomfortable. It may explain Desmond's presence in hell, but it makes that justification a little too real. Nevertheless, for lovers of classic films and larger-than-life performances, fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a fabulous night.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Harry Elletson.

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