Everything about Di is Dead is in your face – even the title is blunt, a short, sharp shock. As brash and as anachronistic as the Oasis hits that bookend it, this one act, one man play takes the audience back to the late 1990s and the death of Princess Diana.
A whirlwind performance from Francis Tucker – better known as the Everyman and Playhouse panto dame extraordinaire – it is certainly not one for the kids this time. A tale of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, he plays Graham, a ‘Britpop hanger on’ with delusions of Kerouac, waiting for inspiration for the novel that will make him a star. Caught up in the madness of the death of Diana, things spiral even further out of control…
As to be expected from writer and director Robert Farquhar (Dead Heavy Fantastic, The Art of Falling Apart, Sink or Swim), the razor-sharp writing is matched only by the frenetic pace of the storytelling. As fantasy and reality blur, Graham is hurled about like a pinball, hoping the next surprise around the corner will provide another chapter of the book.
Drawn to London to experience for himself the surreal atmosphere of a city in mourning, a chance meeting with a stranger is the beginning of a riotous adventure.
Productions don’t come more low-tech than Di is Dead; Tucker has no more than a chair and a minty parka to hide behind as he tells his tale, forced to acknowledge each and every member of the audience.
It’s loud and it’s blokey, but our man softens the edges of a raggedy protagonist – it’s impossible not to like Tucker, who is adept at mining for belly laughs. His energy and attention to detail is unfaltering and elevates what could be a rather niche play into something much more universal. One for the Edinburgh Fringe, maybe?
Di is Dead runs until Saturday (April 27).