Diva: Live From Hell! At Turbine Theatre
Diva: Live From Hell has finally hit London! After a Covid enforced delay I was keen to see if this show had been worth waiting for!
Diva: Live From Hell is a one man show as told by Desmond Channing, set in the ‘Seventh Circle,’ a Cabaret Club in hell. Desmond Channing is President of his drama club but when a new boy not only gets the lead in the show but moves in his his childhood crush then Desmond escalates matters. Throughout the show we find out just how Desmond has ended up in his own personal hell.
The shows background is rooted in All About Eve but when the high school element is added in, along with the musical theatre accompaniment I began to get serious Heathers and Carrie vibes, I could almost imagine JD or Carrie herself up there delivering a similar style Cabaret show.
The premises of the show whilst simple is executed very well. Luke Bayer who plays Desmond Channing flits from Channing to numerous other characters who had an input in his demise, quickly and easily. The pace was quick, the dialogue witty and the music fitted in well. The book by Nora Brigid Monahan, touches on many high school style issues, first loves, bullying and sexuality but does so in a way that is humorous and accessible.
Diva: Live From Hell is incredibly stagey and I was living for this. Canning’s hero is Kevin Kline and he worships Patti LuPone. There were numerous quick throwaway theatrical references which had me howling but equally none of them were key to plot so if they were missed it wouldn’t affect the show.
The success of the show hinges on the actor playing Desmond Channing, not only being convincing as Channing himself but being able to switch between multiple characters oh and sing and tap. It is a big ask for any performer but Luke Bayer makes it look effortless and is hellishly good in the role. Despite Desmond Channing being a far from likeable character you can’t help but just smile along with Bayer’s performance. His voice is perfectly suited to the Cabaret style of the show and throughout the 75 minutes running time it doesn’t falter.
There is a band of 3 who were visible at the front of the stage and provide the accompaniment live. Their visibility helped the cabaret vibe feel more authentic and the interaction between them and Bayer was enjoyable.
Diva: Live From Hell has the potential to grow into a show with a cult following. A show which although set in hell is musical theatre heaven. It has wit, a huge dose of stageyness and an all singing and all tapping leading man is one not to be missed, snap up a ticket now or it could become hell getting on in the future!
Dive: Live From Hell is running until the 3rd September. You can find out more and book tickets here.