Diva: Live From Hell!- musical review

★★★★


Rising from the depths to make an appearance at the Turbine Theatre- renowned for putting on some very well-received shows of late- Luke Bayer's solo show, Diva: Live From Hell!, takes the place by storm. From opening number, to the somewhat abrupt ending, you can't help but crave a little more.


Set in the Seventh Circle cabaret club, Desmond Channing recalls the events getting there, gruesome details and all. Narrating interactions during his time at high school from every angle- shy, lispy best friend, Ally Hewett; main competitor (arch nemesis) laid back Evan Harris; or performing arts teacher, Mr Dallas. As the appointed drama club president, Desmond has an ineffable hunger for fame that drives him to commit to even the most heinous of acts to get it. Loosely taking inspiration from All About Eve, the show has its theatrical references to captivate those knowing- from Patti LuPone to Kevin Kline- but not limiting those who are not Broadway fanatics.


Taking on all given roles alone requires a vast amount of skill, and that is delivered through Bayer's impeccable characterisation throughout. His immensely versatile acting allows for effective transition between them, that appears more creative than cheesy, and easy to distinguish the separate identities. His sassy, exuberant flair shines through, particularly in Desmond, but contrasts phenomenally as he flits through, becoming each person with wit.


The fourth wall is frequently broken when emphasising the cabaret club environment, as those sat at the specific tables near the stage are occasionally involved, as are the band, where 'Geri and her men' help generate some additionally funny moments. Overall, the staging works very well for the performance, and the props used, such as cinema seats and the car, are brilliantly executed. Having significant impact on the slickness of the production, lighting by Alistair Lindsay, is faultless, alongside the book and characters by Nora Brigid Monahan, and direction by Joe McNeice is consistently engaging and often humorous too, with some surprises. Music and lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen bring a varied track list, of which Bayer demonstrates his vocal prowess to match his acting.


Impressively carrying 75 mins of show without a break, Luke Bayer radiates limitless talent. Diva: Live From Hell! will leave your heart racing, and a performance stuck in your mind for the long haul.