Gwyneth Goes Skiing – ‘A Queer Comedy With Unabashed Commitment To A Silly Two-Act Bit’

By Tessa Dunthorne

5 months ago

A different kind of courtroom drama


The infamous trial of 2023 gets dramatised – as if it wasn’t already a drama – by the brains behind Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story. Tessa Dunthorne reviews Gwyneth Goes Skiing, the new musical at the Pleasance Theatre.

Linus Karp in Gwyneth Goes Skiing

Gwyneth Goes Skiiing: The Pop-Culture Moment And Trial Becomes Stage Material

‘It’s crazy that someone has already made a play about the Gwyneth Paltrow skiing trial,’ says literally everybody I talk to after I explain I’ve recently seen Gwyneth Goes Skiing.

‘It’s a musical,’ I say, keen to correct the narrative, ‘and it’s actually on its second run.’

‘Oh,’ they respond, usually in surprise and usually a bit overwhelmed by my enthusiasm for this new(ish) parody piece put on by Awkward Productions. Most people are not sure, it seems, what to think.

This show, a courtroom drama of a kind, stages that trial we couldn’t stop watching last year, in which retired optometrist Terry Sanderson sued A Lister Paltrow over alleged injuries sustained after an accident at a ski resort in Utah. This trial gave us truly iconic fashion moments from the actress, those infamous last words as she won the case (‘I wish you well’), and, now, this riotous musical.

There’s nothing about this show that goes light on energy; Gwyneth Goes Skiing is the brainchild of Linus Karp and Joseph Martin – who put on Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story last year – and is now in the throes of a three-week run at the Pleasance. It’s full of parody moments that reference popular TV and a lot of light piss-taking of Paltrow’s wellness brand, Goop; it’s also voicing and imagining the woes of Terry Sanderson, ‘a man’, as he briefly flirts with stardom. Not least, it features a soundtrack by Drag Race’s resident songwriter, Leland, and features quite surreal dance moves from its two makers and stars Linus and Joseph, who both feel almost the wrong size for their bodies.

Joseph Martin in Gwyneth Goes Skiing

If you want a show that feels like a scrappy comedy functioning on a shoestring budget, and self-aware enough to make jokes about this, this is for you. It’s ridiculous to an extreme – the soundtrack as audience files into the cabaret space includes ‘Crash Into You’ and they’ve dubbed the word ‘skiing’ over tunes, while a preset asks you to discover your own celeb lawsuit – and they’ve nailed all the low-hanging fruit, enabling them to hit some higher-hanging fruit in certain moments with absolute finesse. If you’re less in tune with pop culture, some of these jokes will go over your head, but we implore you to take a chance on Gwyneth Goes Skiing because, at minimum, there’s much joy to be had from Linus’ airy-dreamy embodiment of the Oscar winning actor.

This won’t be for everyone – it’s a queer comedy with an unabashed commitment to a silly two-act bit – but for those who sit up at the idea of a parody comedy about Gwyneth Paltrow, rest assured that this is money well spent.

Book now

Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF.

Running until 16 February, pleasance.co.uk

Images: © Jonny Ruff