Diva: Live from Hell – Production Review

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It’s fair to say that my previous experience of travelling solo did not go to plan in the slightest! The international journey of Hungary (which you can read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/07/26/hungary-2022-part-one/) got off to a very rough start with my suitcase going missing while on the bus to Bristol meaning that I arrived in Hungary with just two pairs of flip flops, a hat and an iPad to last three weeks! Luckily, National Express were able to locate the missing bag and return to my home in Wales which is fantastic but unfortunately, I was a three-hour flight away and so needed to purchase a set of clothes for the rest of my trip. Things got worse while in Hungary when a taxi driver drove off with my backpack (which contained essential documents) which was also luckily returned but the stress of losing both the bags I started my trip with was almost overwhelming! Due to how difficult this journey was, I decided to make a solo journey that was a little closer to home … to London! In stereotypical theatre kid fashion, I decided that I wanted to have an extremely stagey day for this adventure managing to cram in two incredible shows! The first of which was the spectacularly sexy explosion of fabulous fun known as the Moulin Rogue: The Musical (which you can read all about at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/08/18/moulin-rogue-production-review/) and the second was the first preview for a brand new one-person show called Diva: Live from Hell! It would appear that we have been on an almost YouTube treasure hunt for the incredibly talented Luke Bayer, who stars in this new production, as we have interviewed the creators of his next musical project Summer Survival (which you can watch at https://youtu.be/EhtF0WsNMJ0) and in fact, we have also interviewed the creative team on his current project (which you can watch at https://youtu.be/PFpnMLiEGAM) so the only natural conclusion to this quest is sitting down with Luke Bayer himself!

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Diva: Live from Hell is a brand new production that tells the story of Desmond Channing who, as eternal punishment, is forced to perform a cabaret show that documents the series of events leading to him being condemned to hell! During his time on earth, Desmond was an extremely flamboyant young man whose life revolves around his high school musical theatre club. He starts the show as the president of the drama group where he dominates the lead roles in many of their productions but his world is flipped upside down as a new buy joins and threatens his position at the top of the group. As his position at the top becomes more and more uneasy, he begins to spiral into insanity leading to him committing some terrible actions and his own eventual loss of life. This entire show is an almost caricature of the musical theatre kids with comments to the queer-centric nature of musical theatre, references to iconic theatre stars and nods to many modern theatre scandals. Throughout the story, Desmond is ‘awarded’ the title of “Diva” which is a very controversial term that has been thrown around to describe some performers who has supposed not been the easiest to work with backstage yet still receive some very high profile roles!

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The first thing the audience will notice about this brand new production is that the entire show is performed by one performer who must keep the audience’s attention and drive the plot without the assistance of anyone one else. I know that I personally would find the idea of being the only performer incredibly daunting as there is no one to hide behind should you make any mistakes but the amazing Luke Bayer seemed not only unfazed but incredibly comfortable in this solo limelight! Despite being a one-person show, the story includes a plethora of characters from Desmond’s life which Luke brings to life on stage. He is able to easily switch between characters each with their own unique voice and physicalisation which is very impressive to watch, not only is he able to switch voices but also the way he moves/holds his body according to which character is being portrayed which is insanely difficult to do! As well as acting as an obviously distinctive character Luke is also able to perform songs perfectly as each of the different characters which is very difficult to do! We saw Luke act and sing but also were treated to a brilliant dance break where he slipped on a pair of tap shoes and treated the audience to a hilarious dance sequence which, as a tap dancer myself, I thoroughly enjoyed! This show is very clearly a showcase of the immense breadth of Luke’s talent which he makes seem effortless and natural which, I know from experience, are anything but!

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Overall, Diva: Live from hell is a wonderfully camp cabaret show that explores some of the more controversial and political side of the theatre industry! It goes without saying that Luke Bayer is the star if the show (as he is the only cast member) but the talent showcase throughout this production is unlike anything I have ever seen before! If this was the standard of the show for the first preview with many last-minute changes occurring the day of the show then I can only imagine how mind-blowing this production will be in a few days time! Diva: Live from Hell is perfect from anyone interested in musical theatre and those who have been involved in high-school productions will be able to relate to many aspects of the fictional story being shared! You can purchase tickets directly from the Turbine theatre’s website at https://www.theturbinetheatre.com/whats-on/diva%3A-live-from-hell and I would rate this production 4.5 stars out of 5!

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