A musical about Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski trial could be the kind of thing that could either go amazingly well or terribly badly. Thankfully, with Gwyneth Goes Skiing, it’s the former.
From the team at Awkward Productions, who also brought us Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, Gwyneth Goes Skiing is a hilarious, camp, and outrageous time at the theatre, quite unlike anything else you’ll see at the moment!
Primarily a two-hander (with the occasional help from members of the audience) between Linus Karp as Paltrow and Joseph Martin as Dr Terry Sanderson the play offers an account of the infamous collision between the two on the slopes of Deer Valley in 2016. This includes the circumstances leading up to and including the actual crash as well as the 2023 trial, the latter part brought to life using verbatim lines.
The script is brilliant, full of fab zingers, and takes every opportunity to squeeze ‘Goop’ in as well as every project Paltrow has ever done, including the films the Sliding Doors star can’t remember doing, like Spider-Man. It also manages to make several pop culture references without feeling like they’ve been shoehorned in, drawing extra laughs from the audience. The Traitors, Dakota Johnson taking down Ellen DeGeneres, Holly Willoughby and more all get an ingenious reference.
The play also pokes a lot of fun at its star subject: Gwyneth Paltrow. Long held as iconic for many reasons, including her many memorable quotes, the play manages to include everything from vagina eggs, Glee, and her infamous line: “I wish you well.” Indeed, this last line is built up to as perhaps one of the musical’s most dramatic moments (as is “I lost half a day of skiing”) and is carried off perfectly. Here, Karp’s Gwyneth is also always “consciously uncoupling” from everyone and everything in reference to her split with Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
Karp is effortlessly funny as this Paltrow parody. He is forever swishing his blonde hair and captures Gwyneth’s cadence and breeziness well. Martin has a tougher task of bringing the lesser-known Dr Terry Sanderson to life but perhaps has found freedom in the retired optometrist’s anonymity. Martin is equally funny as Karp and a brilliant improviser with the two bouncing off one another, and their recruited audience-cast members well. There’s not a bad performance to be found.
Music comes from Leland who you may recognise from RuPaul’s Drag Race, but he’s also worked with Cher and Troye Sivan. Given his experience in Drag Race, he was the perfect choice to create songs for such a zany parody musical. Trixie Mattel also stuns in her brief cameo as Blythe Danner, still managing to find ways to promote Trixie Cosmetics.
The audience gets to decide who is guilty meaning the play could end in different ways from night to night. On the night Attitude attended it was decided that Dr Sanderson was guilty of causing the crash, leading to a final closing number of ‘I Wish You Well’. We’re interested to see how it ends if people decide Gwyneth is guilty… It’s definitely a reason to come back again!
Gwyneth Goes Skiing is playing at the Pleasance Theatre until 16 February. Book tickets here.
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