Jack Peat reviews Truth, Lies, Diana at Charing Cross Theatre.
On the night princess Diana died I was driving home from a family holiday in France. Most people know where they were when the tragic news started filtering through the media, the memory fixed in our minds in the same way people recall their whereabouts when JF Kennedy was assassinated. And like the gunshot on the grassy knoll that has implicated 82 assassins and 214 people in conspiracy theories, the death of the people’s princess is starting to arouse suspicion.
The revelations that have been spilt as a result of John Conway’s thorough investigation in writing the ‘factional’ drama Truth, Lies, Diana have been nothing short of shocking. Was Diana pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s child at the time of the crash and was the prospect of a Muslim air to the throne behind a potential assassination? Is Prince Harry James Hewitt’s child? Did Henri Paul the driver have connections to the security forces? Why did it take an hour and 43 minutes to get three miles to hospital and what can we make of the evidence that shows the normal 911 recording procedure was interfered with?
Conway explores all and more in his daring re-evaluation of evidence in a political thriller meets true story meets drama production at Charing Cross Theatre. Based on his experiences investigating the death and meeting with conspiracists and key players – James Hewitt, Al Fayed, Paul Burrell, senior policeman, newspaper editors and Special Branch – he has built a compelling case that at the very least deserves our attention, although you get the feeling that is the very most it will ever get.
The conspiracy trail that eventually drove Conway mad is somewhat propped-up on an interpretation of events that is aggressively ‘anti’ the version of events told to the public. Using every trick in the conspiracists’ book the show often poses questions without giving answers and scripts scenarios that sensationalise new findings at the expense of evidence that supports the original verdict. It’s clear, at times, that Conway has become so consumed by conspiracy theories that he is trapped in a cycle of exposing shocking revelations that leads to him doubting aspects of his own life such as his marriage, which forms the narrative upon which an orgy of conspiracies are unleashed.
But staging the play in such a way – the main conspiracist as the protagonist and so on – leaves you questioning the character more than the theories he is trying to unravel. I was more convinced of his account after briefly reading John Morgan’s Paris-London Connection in the press kit before the show than I was after seeing the main issues woven into a play about a somewhat self-indulgent playwright who has been gagged by ‘the man’.
If you’re interested, or indeed open, to suspicions concerning the death of Princess Diana then this play is well worth a watch. My girlfriend, a Royalist unlike me, left the theatre quite convinced by the credible theories presented by Conway in the show. I was convinced by the theories, but less convinced about the show.
Until 14 February. Box office: 844 493 0650. Venue: Charing Cross theatre, London.