We take a look at what critics have had to say about the UK premiere of Alexander Sage Oyen and Nora Brigid Monahan’s musical playing a limited run at the Turbine Theatre.
West End Best Friend: ★★★★★ “Solo performer Luke Bayer is jaw-dropping. He sells Desmond’s story so compellingly, literally leaping between an entire cast of characters without missing a beat. Bayer is hernia-inducing funny and commands his stage with such easy confidence, he surely deserves to sit at the table of theatre legends Patti LuPone and Kevin Kline.”
The Reviews Hub: ★★★★★ “Diva: Live From Hell! is littered with references which will delight hardcore musical theatre fans and, for those who aren’t in-the-know, it ultimately feeds into to Desmond’s entertaining greater-than-thou delusion. With both cult and mass appeal, this production could easily become one of the most in-demand nights out.”
Lou Reviews: “Directed by Joe McNeice, this is a tight one-act show at 75 minutes with impressive lighting by Alistair Lindsay (who also produces the show for Unusual Theatre Company) and creative choreography from Anna Hale.”
All That Dazzles: ★★★★★ “The music by Alexander Sage Oyen is of a consistently high standard feeling instantly familiar and performed excellently thanks to Luke’s incredible voice. From the opener of ‘Live From Hell!’ to ‘Rock Bottom’, each number feels unique in its setting thanks to the variety of characters and ways Luke performs them. With these songs performed by the house band “Geri and Her Men” (Debbi Clarke, Jonnie Grant and Ben Uden), these talented musicians are ever-present and have to deal with Desmond’s regular interactions and chastising.”
London Living Large.com: ★★★★ “The arch, narcissistic and bitchy would-be star of the school’s production of The Pirates of Penzance is wonderfully captured by Luke Bayer whose over-the-top performance is a thorough delight. He mugs and camps it up throughout the show, throwing everything he has into this wild little parody.
Boyz.co.uk: ★★★★★ “The whole thing just zips along and Bayer’s control of the different accents and characters he plays is a masterclass in performing, with an intricate script where timing is key.”
The Spy in the Stalls: ★★★★★ “Clever, entertaining and deliciously camp, Diva – Live from Hell! is increasingly uplifting the further it descends into the depths. Brilliantly performed by Luke Bayer who is having a devilishly good time. And so are the audience. The only danger is we might start believing that Hell is so much fun, we’ll all want to become sinners!”
The Guardian: ★★★★ “But for such a camp show, it has surprising darkness as Desmond sings in the seedy depths of the Seventh Circle. Bayer embodies this difficult role without any sense of strain, and even a technical issue which brings a temporary halt to the performance on press night does not impede our enjoyment. A magnetic production with tons of cheek and a true diva spirit, this should not be missed.”
Mark My Words.uk: ★★★★★ “The combination of Bayer’s talent and the giddily heightened drama of the original play makes for an outrageously hilarious evening. Expect plenty of clutching at invisible pearls in sheer outrage as one watches a gloriously intense, barely justified quest for ultimate revenge that makes Les Misérables look like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”
Diva: Live From Hell continues to play at the Turbine Theatre until 3 September 2022.