Wednesday 8 November 2023

The Interview - Review

Park Theatre, London


Written by Jonathan Maitland
Directed by Michael Fentiman

Yolanda Kettle and Tibu Fortes

There is already a vast amount of information surrounding the interview that BBC journalist Martin Bashir conducted with Diana, Princess of Wales in 1995. The interview itself was watched, and has been recorded, by millions and in 2021 the Dyson inquiry into the interview’s background found that Bashir had acted deceitfully in his gaining access to, as well as the trust of, the Princess.

And it is against that background that one looks to Jonathan Maitland’s play to deliver some analysis or comment that may enhance our understanding of this sad and troublesome chapter of the Royal Family’s history. Sadly, no fresh analysis or research is offered at all, save for a whimsical endgame that sees Diana’s ghost bemoaning the fact that Prince William effectively banned any future broadcast of the interview in the wake of the Dyson report. And while Maitland clearly “sides” with the Princess, he shows no sympathy whatsoever to the distress that Bashir’s deceit has caused for Diana’s children and his play is the weaker for this lack of balance. 

The acting however is superb. Yolanda Kettle’s Diana captures the iconic stance of the late Princess in both her voice and physical presence with full credit due to Mary Howland’s vocal coaching and Susanna Peretz’s astonishing wig creation. Equally, Tibu Fortes as Bashir builds a credibly unsympathetic character, immediately recognisable from how the BBC man was portrayed in the media.

Michael Fentiman has directed his company with a perceptive accuracy and whilst the script may lack meat, all the characters are well fleshed out. This is certainly an evening of brilliant caricature, but at two hours including interval the play feels long for what is little more than a collection of soundbites.

Runs until 25th November
Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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