I have never gone skiing, and never will. Aside from the absurdity of dragging yourself up to the top of a mountain, then throwing yourself down again while standing on two planks of wood, virtually everyone I know who has been skiing has either been injured or knows someone who has. Accidents happen on ski slopes, and sometimes those accidents can have long-lasting effects, even on the rich and famous as explored in Awkward Productions’ Gwyneth Goes Skiing back at the Pleasance Theatre.
On the 26th of February 2016, Goop-founding, Door-Sliding, Shakespeare-In-Loving, consciously-uncoupling Hollywood superstar Gwyneth Paltrow (Linus Karp) was enjoying a skiing holiday in the Utah resort of Deer Valley when Owen-Powell had a close encounter of the too close kind with Dr Terry Sanderson (Joseph Martin) a retired optometrist. As to who ran into how, well that is a disputed issue, with both claiming they were more crashed against than crashing.
Jump forward to 2023 and Dr Terry (great first name by the way) is suing Gwyneth, initially for $3,000,000 but then reduced to $300,000. Gwyneth is counter-suing the good Dr for the sum of $1. They finally have their day in court. As the combatants take their places, Dr Terry, and his lawyer Kristin VanOrman on one side and Gwyneth representing herself on the other. The Judge (voiced by Dan Hilderbrand) informs us that we, the audience, are going to be the jury, and that, after being sworn in, we will ultimately decide who did what to whom and what it is worth.
If you have seen any of Awkward Productions before, you will have a reasonable idea of what to expect from Gwyneth Goes Skiing – a well written and acted story that at times is totally surreal and at others just mad. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. The triple threats (writer, director, and actor) that are Karp and Martin have delivered something special once again. The actual story of the court case is bizarre enough but when you add in a talking squirrel (Wes Maddocks) rabbit and deer (Cam Carlyle), not to mention some excellent audience participation, then the whole thing is elevated to a new level of theatrical brilliance.
Having spent some of yesterday on the web looking up the case, I can happily say that both actors really bring the characters onto the slopes and into the courtroom. They have really picked up the look and mannerisms of Gwyneth and Terry perfectly. Not only that, but they have also obviously carried out their research and managed to find the truly farcical elements of the trial and incorporate them into the text of the play adding another level of authenticity leaving the audience at times not sure was reality and what came from their imagination.
There’s not much more I can say without giving away too much detail of a show that is more than a play and more of an immersive experience, complete with an opportunity for audience members to really get any life frustrations out of their system in a way not usually encouraged in theatre.
Once again Awkward Productions have produced a top-notch show that takes a seemingly innocuous subject and, while keeping the heart of the story there, makes a final event that is completely mad and keeps the audience entertained from start to finish. Another knockout production from this highly talented duo.
Review by Terry Eastham
She’s the Goop-founding, Door-Sliding, Shakespeare-In-Loving, consciously-uncoupling Hollywood superstar. He’s a retired optometrist from Utah. In 2016, they went skiing.
On the slopes of Deer Valley, their worlds collided, and so did they – literally. Ouch. Seven years later in 2023, they went to court. Double ouch.
This is their story. Kind of. Not really.
Join harbingers of queer chaos Awkward Productions (Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, How to Live a Jellicle Life) as they transform London’s Pleasance Theatre into Deer Valley Ski Resort.
Starring Linus Karp as Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Martin as Terry Sanderson, and featuring original music by Leland (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Cher’s Christmas, Troye Sivan’s Something To Give Each Other).