It’s not often that you’re handed a full dossier with your ticket at a theatre press night, but then Truth, Lies, Diana is no ordinary theatre production.
This “factional” drama attracted headlines around the world before rehearsals even began – and continues to do so. Below, I’ve collated some of these cuttings – only ones in English and, trust me, this is just a smattering. At the second press performance last night, rather than one of the usual London reviewers or bloggers, I was sat next to the highly esteemed UK correspondent from German national newspaper Die Welt.
Despite the weight of media interest, however, on viewing, there’s just no getting around it: Truth, Lies, Diana is a bad play. More that that: it’s a bad play-within-a-play, with writer-producer Jon Conway also starring playing Ray, a fictional version of ‘himself’, who while researching and writing a play of the same title, is betrayed by his two-timing wife, suffers a mental breakdown and is literally hounded to death by the “men in grey suits”.
Crossed with re-enactments of interviews and court transcripts, the result is Pirandello meets The Permanent Way, with pantomime production values (bad acting, bad accents, bad wigs) and clunky audience interaction (raise your hand if you no longer believe the car crash was just an accident).
However dramatically bad, though, I applaud Jon Conway for undertaking this project, with clearly good intentions. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but he makes a strong case that there was something dodgy about what happened in that Parisian tunnel on 31 August 1997, and in the days, weeks, months and years that followed.
As Conway’s ‘character’ says in the play, “everything before seems like an accident, everything after seems like a cover-up”. I admit it, I raised my hand in the stalls. And when I got home, I indulged in some web research of my own.
Pretty much all of Truth, Lies, Diana’s revelations have been revealed before, and been ‘proved’ and ‘disproved’ at length. Leaving aside some of the more fantastical claims, the ones that prompted me to raise my hand included:
- At the 2007 inquest, there were more than 500 documents the jury didn’t see
- And 84 witnesses
- There were 58 errors in the autopsy report
- And she was embalmed before the autopsy – within hours of dying
- In CCTV footage just before leaving the Ritz, driver Henri Paul exhibits no signs of drunkenness
Conway also points out in the play that, in recent years, we’ve seen many old crimes back in the courts thanks to new evidence – phone hacking, Jimmy Savile, Hillsborough. Will the death of Princess Diana someday receive the same reconsideration?
Truth or lies: 16 key questions
Based on his immersion in the subject matter, here are the “key questions” (in the programme, it says 13, but breaking it down, I make 16) Conway believes should be probed more deeply:
- Why were James Hewitt and Paul Burrell smeared to discredit anything they might say?
- Why do the French and British security forces claim they never spied on Diana and had no knowledge she was even in Paris on that fateful weekend?
- Was Diana pregnant when she died?
- How can you conclude Henri Paul was drunk based on all the evidence?
- Did Henri Paul work for various security forces?
- Why did the French Police Investigation dismiss key evidence and witnesses?
- Why were there so many irregularities with the autopsies and pathology reports?
- Why was Diana embalmed before her autopsy?
- Why did French Police ignore leads to find the drivers of the pursuing motorbikes and the Fiat Uno that caused the crash?
- Why were no security, speed or traffic cameras working on the route the car took in Paris that night?
- Why was the weight of evidence that James Andanson was the likely driver of the Fiat Uno ignored?
- Why was James Andanson’s bizarre death (his charred body, with a hole in the head, was found in a burnt-out car in a forest near his home in southern France in May 2000) dismissed as suicide?
- Why did it take ten years to hold an inquest? Was Justice Scott Baker fair and impartial in his overseeing of the inquest and its verdict of ‘unlawful killing’?
- Why did it take so long for the ambulance carrying Diana to arrive at the hospital?
- Was Diana killed in the ambulance?
- Why did neither French nor British Police ever seriously consider that something suspicious had happened?
While Truth, Lies, Diana doesn’t have any definite answers, it keeps raising these and other curious questions – and airs quite a few theories, some of which even sound plausible.
A global media frenzy
Even in death, Princess Diana sells papers. Here are just a few of the articles that have been generated on the back of Truth, Lies, Diana‘s recently aired revelations – not including broadcast or non-English-speaking media.