In Diana, a captivating one-person musical, Peter Smith draws inspiration from the enigmatic Diana, the blonde British icon who bared her soul on television. Smith, a renowned figure in the New York cabaret circuit, reveals their fascination with Diana, ignited by watching Martin Bashir’s infamous interview. Yet, the show appears more about Smith, frequently delving into anecdotes about family, leaving us perplexed about its true focus. The lack of clarity leaves us yearning for a clearer narrative.
Smith excels at crafting sensationalist one-liners, but disappointingly, do not lead anywhere substantial. Instead, it feels like a collection of shallow headlines, akin to tabloid gossip that entices but lacks depth. This alluring yet ultimately open production leaves much to be desired.
Addressing controversial subjects, Smith touches on scandalous topics but fails to explore them further, playfully referring to theatre as a sanctuary untouched by misfortune unless managed by Kevin Spacey or discusses Ghislaine Maxwell’s impact on other women without delving into the matter. The attempt to address serious themes like loneliness remains unfulfilled, with little relevant content provided.
The show opens with Smith’s encounter with Diana’s voice, suggesting a focus on her life. However, this theme quickly dissipates, becoming a mere gimmick to hold the audience’s attention as he transitions through various costumes and performs five original songs.
Smith’s pleasant voice stands out as the highlight, and a nostalgic nod to 80s retro music brings solace to an otherwise monotonous monologue.
The stage consists of black platforms splattered with white paint, reminiscent of the cosmos’ creation or a bold artistic statement. Yet, it becomes a metaphor for the show itself—unabashed and unfulfilling. It feels like a drag act that prolongs and drags on, leaving much to be desired.
The show is playing at the Soho Theatre. Link to tickets: https://sohotheatre.com/events/peter-smiths-diana/
Reviewer: Akshay Raheja
Reviewed: 18th July 2023
North West End UK Rating: