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Di Is Dead/Liverpool Playhouse Studio

Panto fave Francis Tucker is nothing like a dame in this brilliant show, says Peter Grant

Written by . Published on April 24th 2013.


Di Is Dead/Liverpool Playhouse Studio

I WAS once driven through the Parisien subway where Princess Diana died. I thought then that someone should write a play about the pre (and  post) activity of press and public to events there in August 1997.

Now it has happened with a brilliant, 75-minute, one-man play by Bob Farquhar.

It's a black, dark comedy with a faultless performance that would, if played at the
Edinburgh Festival, triumph there

I'll call him Robert for now, since he has been called that for all the distinctive, quirky and enjoyable plays that have been put on stage...not just locally but globally.

The Peccadillo Theatre Company presents this manic monologue, first seen at the excellent Lantern Theatre.

This play has it all : laugh-out-loud moments; think-again snippets; many sigh and nod-the-head agreements; cringe bits with one especially graphic sexual action scene and  then, in this merry-go-round of madness, you enter the head of the central character: a Britpopper, Graham, who is aiming to write a book about the lost world going on around him.

Nothing makes sense to him but he articulates it all in cartoon-esque form.

Francis Tucker In Di Is Dead %28C%29 Brian Roberts

He is a Liam Gallagher-type lad, but with wit, and who better to play this role than  adopted Liverpudlian, Francis Tucker.

Tucker is well known to ;local audiences who have lapped up his sparkly panto performances at the Everyman and Playhouse for the past decade.

Here he is alone.

Nothing like a dame.

Instead, he sits perplexed - all angst in a chair with just T-shirt, jeans and a bottle of mineral water, eye-balling certain audience members while spilling out his frequent furtive and futile frustrations.

He makes mobile calls to his girlfriend, Cathy. We don't know what she thinks about him, that's up to us. But strangely likeable, our main character is someone you can actually care about.

Di Is Dead is a piece of acute storytelling that will surprise most theatregoers in the wonderful intimacy of the Playhouse Studio, a play made for this venue.

Tucker takes the script  by the scruff of its neck and delivers a funny, poignant, outrageous non-stop speech that is quite astonishing in its levels of energy.

You feel he's actually outside the gates of Di's house, after her death, where he can't comprehend why a "Sloane ranger with one O level" had such a grip on the nation.

There are pieces of almost John Cooper Clarke imagery in Farquhar's script.

One master stroke is calling the royal circus reaction, "a model village of maudlin."

It is a succinct summary of tabloids against broadsheets, when it came to Di- death mania reporting.

Tucker is clearly comfortable with every bitter, twisted, lovingly-created line by Bob. So what we have is a two-man show: we see one and can hear the other behind the scenes.

Both the writer, who is also the director, and the performer wring out the best of the situation.

The are times when you shake your head at the rattling random thoughts about this and that  - all are structured effortlessly.

This, however, won't appeal to any Royalist. It won't endear you if you have a problem with the word masturbation either, and may make you leave if you don't want to encounter Tucker's take on this very theatrical taboo subject.

Di is Dead arrived in a week when we'd all witnessed Thatcher's funeral. Its timing made many members of the audience think again about grief played out in public.

It's a black, dark comedy with a faultless performance that would, if played at the Edinburgh Festival, triumph there.

Happily, we have it in Liverpool until Saturday. Come back soon Bob and Francis.

9/10

Di Is Dead runs until April 27 with Saturday matinee.

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Peter Coyle

i wish i had been there…it sounds like something joyous and anarchic...the way the article is…

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Anonymous

Couldn't agree more. This is a super piece. Ken would be proud that not a penny of public money was…

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Reader Xxx

The review was indeed brilliant - congratulations Angie. The show must have been very special -…

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Claudia Boulton

Thanks Angie for your brilliant piece, so glad you wrote it! Now i know what was going on! Being in…

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