Gwyneth Goes Skiing is a campy delight, plus it’s doing wonders for Gwyneth Paltrow’s PR

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Feb 16, 2024 at 11:53 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

If there’s something campy, camp-esque, or even camp-like going on in London, there’s a sure chance that I’m going to it. And, on Saturday 10 February 2024, I applied far too much blusher and hurried on along to go and see Gwyneth Goes Skiing, a performance that breaks down the details of Gwyneth Paltrow’s legendary 2023 court trial. And, let’s just say, it had me well and truly gooped.

When I heard about the show, the first thing that came to mind was “finally, a piece of art that perfectly encapsulates the beauty in celebrity teasing.” We’ve entered a new era where jokes and comedy routines can come from a place of love and silliness as opposed to hate or envy. Pop culture has always been looked down upon or trivialised, but it’s a cornerstone of our society and just because a piece of theatre might be aimed towards a younger or queerer crowd doesn’t make it any less important.

But first, before we get into the really good stuff, let me quickly run you through the inspiration for this fabulous performance:

If you weren’t living under a rock in 2023, you likely spent the entire month of March glued to your phone screen waiting for updates on a court trial that starred none other than Goop founder, self-proclaimed nutrition expert, Academy Award-winning actress, and blonde bombshell Miss Gwyneth Paltrow.

The dramatic trial, which helped catapult the fashion trend of quiet luxury into the stratosphere, gripped the entire globe, or at least the corner of it where gay men and women live. It all centred on whether or not Paltrow was guilty of liability in a skiing crash with a retired optometrist named Terry Sanderson. Their ski paths collided on a Utah mountain in 2016. After their encounter, Sanderson sued the actress, citing that she had been skiing “out of control” and the incident had caused him great physical pain including a “brain injury and four broken ribs.”

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Gwyneth Paltrow is being sued by a man who accused her of crashing into and injuring him while skiing. Here’s what has been said at the trial so far ...

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The entire trial was quite the spectacle and after Paltrow had been found not guilty, she left the room, blazer tightly clinging to her perfect physique, and whispered in Sanderson’s ear: “I wish you well.” I like to think that it was those four words that then inspired performers Linus Karp and Joseph Martin to take the drama from the courtroom… to the stage.

Gwyneth Goes Skiing opened on 13 December 2023 and was immediately lauded for its ridiculousness and commitment to the bit. Anyone who has seen a Rusical or two, aka the musical extravaganza episodes from RuPaul’s Drag Race, will know how genuinely enjoyable it is to see lip-synching live.

 

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Karp is an unbelievably brilliant Paltrow and Martin brings an energy to Sanderson that I don’t think any of us thought possible. Together, they’re a perfect team and you can immediately sense how well they work in tandem. The fact that they happen to be partners in life as well as business is also an adorable addition.

 

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It’s hard to recall every single moment that I loved during the performance so instead, I’ll try and whittle it down to my favourite bits. Firstly, I instantly knew that I was going to enjoy Gwyneth Goes Skiing when, mid-monologue, Karp described Paltrow’s ex-husband and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin as “the colour beige personified.” Bless you, Chris.

Next, there was the fact that Paltrow’s daughter, Apple, was played by an actual apple—you can truly tell the imaginative capabilities of a performer when you see them verbally and physically interact with a piece of fruit. I equally enjoyed the many scenes where Karp spoke to and sang with numerous woodland creatures.

Oh, and special shout-out to the fact that drag queen and complete icon Trixie Mattel made a virtual cameo as Paltrow’s mother… Incredible.

I was lucky enough to speak with Karp and Martin after the show who, both still fully in costume, ushered me into a nearby dressing room and happily let me badger them with questions. Something I really loved about the show was how, despite being low budget, every single prop, lighting, or musical decision throughout the performance was completely intentional. Both Karp and Martin make it clear that the show is “low budget, not cheap,” and that everything might feel wacky and on the spot, but in reality, every joke and farce is deliberate—that’s why it works so well.

Audience participation is crucial in this play but the possibility of it doesn’t feel like an awful dread, rather an opportunity for fun. Martin explained: “We put a lot of emphasis on audience interaction, feeling safe and welcoming and fun. Because, as an audience member, I fear interactions at all costs, so I know that if we can make it very clear to them ‘Yeah, you’re gonna have a nice time’ and ‘Yeah, we are all on your side,’ then they excel all the more.”

But back to the celebrity teasing. I was keen to hear the duo’s thoughts on the matter “There’s always been a world of celebrity and celebrity gossip. But I do think that what we do a little bit differently is that the teasing, as I say, is always with love. We genuinely really do care about everyone that’s involved in this case,” Martin noted. 

Post Paltrow and Wagatha Christie, it’s plain to see that there’s a space for art that can be both sensitive and entertaining, and I’m here for it.

One of the most important things about Karp and Martin’s performances, and something I found to be incredibly essential to the success of their work, is that they’re always catered for a queer audience. Speaking on this, Karp noted: “I think when we create work, we try and think of ourselves as the target audience, I always want to make myself laugh so it’s going to very queer and very stupid.”

“I really want to make a space that is queer. Obviously, everyone is welcome. But so often, as a queer person, you go into spaces and you have to adapt to being straight or, you know, 95 to 99 per cent of culture that we consume is straight culture—you’re always there being assumed that you’re straight. Plus, it’s always ‘Oh, ladies and gentlemen’. And I feel like when we put on our shows, we are going to treat the entire audience as queer, assume everyone is queer. And it’s quite a joy. I think it’s so nice to create those spaces, because for some queer people that can be quite rare,” Karp continued.

Up next, I’m gagging to see a musical all about Winona Ryder’s thieving era!

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