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Anita Luna The Diva – Camden Fringe 2019 | Review

Anita Luna The Diva
Anita Luna The Diva

It wasn’t until the end that it was made clear that this was a truncated version of a longer play, created to suit the hour-long performance timings of the Camden Fringe. Anita Luna: The Diva did have the feel of a show that was somewhat incomplete, as though the audience hadn’t been treated (or indeed subjected) to enough facets of Anita Luna’s (Anita Giovannini) colourful life to justify having such an intensely emotional and borderline melodramatic final scene, the long goodbye to her loyal fans.

And yet there were moments when there wasn’t much happening on stage. Scene changes can be clunky in pub theatre productions at any rate but even taking this into account, there were occasions when the music played on, and the audience was kept waiting. The costume changes were substantial enough to (just about) satisfy the lengthy gap between scenes, and an effort is made to keep the audience ticking over with some sound effects and instructions shouted by Luna to her long-suffering stage manager. The prologue, too, could do with more visuals – the audience sits, listening to the closing moments of Sunset Boulevard – the movie, that is, and as Norma Desmond declares herself “ready for my close up” it becomes clear that Luna takes after the deluded faded movie star. I never got the impression she (Luna) killed a writer though!

It’s not quite a cradle to grave story, but the narrative proper starts with an affectionate, if irreverent, memory of her upbringing. Her most vivid memories of her father seem to involve a lot of belching, passing wind and going to the toilet, the result of eating copious amounts of food, apparently an Italian trait. I must emphasise the word ‘apparently’ – there are, of course, plenty of Italians who eat reasonable portions. Anyway, it makes for the kind of theatre that would make children laugh to their heart’s content – the incessant flatulence wears a little thin as a joke very quickly, but one must bear in mind the story at this point is effectively being told from a child’s perspective.

Giovannini’s Luna has good stage presence – unusually for me, the background music during one particular scene wasn’t irritating in the slightest. And here’s something seasoned patrons can relate to: “I listen to my heart. And my heart says, ‘Theatre, theatre, theatre’.” There was some interaction with the audience (interaction, dear reader, not participation), and Luna does well to break the ice with some non-verbal clowning around.

It’s an energetic performance, that’s for sure, and as the show’s title suggests, it’s all rather ‘me, me, me’. It jumps suddenly from Luna recounting childhood memories to displaying defiance against the establishment. But there is versatility to be enjoyed in the singing, the pathos, and the exploration of the very meaning of the word ‘diva’. A confident and eclectic performance that just needs to flow a little smoother.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

She is The Diva with superpowers. She can do everything: she can act, sing, dance.
She is an acrobat. She is a Mentalist: she can move objects and people using solely the power of her mind.
Like life, her every show is different and unique; Anita Luna shares her vulnerability with irony on stage, baring her emotions and soul. This is a voyage of transformation: from vulnerable tomboy, who everyone made fun of, to becoming the greatest DIVA of all time.

This is a story about inner conflict, fighting to fit in and even not to, trapped in a world of stereotypes. In choosing to be different and becoming her alter-ego, Anita Luna the Divine Feminine, she saves herself, maintaining her authenticity, and in turn hopes to encourage others to embrace one’s spiritual concoction of being both divine and human.

A one-woman show that’s a unique mix of theatre, clown, dance, singing, tragedy and comedy. The show has travelled to Barcelona, Paris, Brazil and Rome. This is Anita Luna The Diva’s premiere in the UK and she is also scheduled to perform in New York (United Solo) later this year.
Written by and starring Anita Giovannini. Co-written and directed by Jango Edwards.

Anita Luna The Diva – Camden Fringe 2019
Performance Dates: 6 August, 6pm; 7 August, 7.30pm; 8 August, 9pm @ Hen & Chickens
Hen and Chickens Theatre

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