Rarely have I sat and been mesmerised quite so completely by a torrent of words and a stream of consciousness as this.
With little more than a chair and an overcoat for company on the Playhouse Studio stage, he stops us in our tracks from the moment he swaggers into view.
The premise is simple - a guy to whom Princess Di was only ever a face on the front of the tabloids finds himself strangely affected on seeing the extraordinary public reaction to her sudden death. Looking for a subject to write about, he decides that this is material enough and embarks on a journey, during which he meets a frustrated woman, gets complicatedly involved and then meets himself coming back.
Describing much more of the narrative would only detract from the magic. Suffice to say that the story is both hilarious and telling. It takes a very off the wall look at how one particular event in social history seemed to bring a collective wobble to the British Stiff Upper Lip. In other hands that may have become maudlin, but with this kind of writing and delivery it is a tremendously entertaining and cathartic experience.
Farquhar's script vies with Niagara Falls for its flow and Tucker has the huge presence to carry us over the precipice and have us ride the rapids with him, as he negotiates the dangerous territory of such a solo performance.
Francis Tucker is a favourite at the Everyman and Playhouse in the rock and roll Panto. He has long since won the hearts of Liverpool audiences for his larger than life performances. This material is possibly less far flung from that territory than it might seem. There may be no Technicolor costume, but the relentless dialogue and the mischievous delivery have the audience in uncontrollable laughter through much of the play’s unbroken 80 minute span.
If you were to ask anyone to name two influential and opinion-dividing female figures from the late 20th century, you'd be fairly sure to get the same two answers quite often. Poetically symmetrical then, for the opening night of a play inspired by the death of Princess Diana to be slightly disturbed by loud fireworks outside the theatre marking the day of another woman’s funeral. You couldn't plan that!
Di is Dead runs at the Liverpool Playhouse Studio Theatre until Saturday 27th April.
Follow this link for more info or to book tickets: http://www.everymanplayhouse.com/show/Di_is_Dead/932.aspx
or view the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO9bo8LD6ZI&feature=youtube_gdata_player
|Francis Tucker - Photo © Brian Roberts|