Diana the Musical: Is it Better than a Wank?
The closest thing to a review that Diana deserves
There are many a question that will plague humanity for the rest of time. Will we be granted some kind of an afterlife? Is there one true omnipotent creator? Does morality come from religion, or does religion come from morality? But perhaps one of the most important questions that can be asked; when, for the love of God, will we let Princess Diana die?
It was July 29th 1981, a young adult aged 19 was living every little girl’s dream and marrying a predator 13 years her senior who had been grooming her for the past 3 years. The happy couple was, of course, Lady Diana Spencer, and The Prince of Wales himself, Charles *surname redacted*.
Flash forward to the 31st of August 1997 and, in what can only be described as a mercy kill, the former Princess of Wales was killed by The Queen herself via a cut break (or in a completely random car accident if you want to believe the Lamestream MediaTM). Little did the world know that we as people really don’t know how to respect the dead.
When The Crown first came to Netflix in 2016 there was outrage at the portrayal of our monarchy as anything but a jolly little bunch of lovable racists. They had a certain image to uphold and certain people weren’t too happy when this persona was broken. The Royals were an institution and special, not something that was allowed to be humanised.
And then in 2020 when Princess Di was introduced to the screen there was, albeit a good bit less, discussion around the effects of airing the dirty laundry (laundry that consisted of an eating disorder, self-harm and infidelity) of a dead woman. The morality of showing the personal life of not only a dead person but also someone who was beloved, seemed to rub the general population the wrong way.
Yet, there was still another way that we could desecrate this poor woman once more, and this time we could make it even more personal. What was the number one thing that Diana loved most, aside from her children and living? That’s right, musicals. So what if we take her life, make it a musical, and then make it complete and utter dogshit? That’d really piss her off, huh?
And so it was done. With the help of Netflix; Tony Award winner Jo DiPietro, and Bon Jovi band member David Bryan, came together and made the incestuous love child that was Diana The Musical.
Diana was first meant to open to a live audience on 30th of March 2020. This performance was of course delayed indefinitely due to an awe-inspiring piece of divine intervention in the form of a pandemic. God must not be all-powerful however, as in September of 2020 a ‘pro shot’ was made of the show, forever immortalising it in the hallowed halls of an internet streaming service.
So let’s address the elephant with a poorly done English accent in the room; this musical was, of course, absolute trash. Why would it be anything else?
The first big mistake, aside from being demented enough to conceive an idea like this, was the decision to not involve a single British person in any of the important creative roles. Both the writers are American, all of the major cast members are American, the director is American, hell even the wig consultant for Diana was American.
I hate to blame America for all the major issues in our world, this would of course be hyperbole, but I will pin the blame on them for the line ‘Better than a Guinness, better than a wank’ being said in anything other than a Simpson’s parody about the state of theatre.
This Brit-erasure then resulted in the musical suffering from what I like to call, Bloody ‘ell syndrome.
bloody ‘ell syndrome (noun)
blood.y ell syn.drome | blə-dē el sin-ˌdrōm
A trope of writing wherein a writer (typically American) will attempt to make something sound like it is from England by misusing or overusing English idiosyncrasies
Example: Bloody ‘ell guv’ner I really need a wee mate to help me get some wa’er in me body so I can eat some fish and chips with tea before the Queen comes on the telly. Pip pip crumpets
It seems to lack a fundamental understanding of what people in the UK talk, think, or act like. It also seems to not understand how we talk, as 90% of the English accents were dreadful and 100% of the Welsh accents sounded German.
There is a chance I’m slightly biased with these last few points. Most of the media that I consume hails from the UK (as do I) so it would only make sense that I feel insulted when the people we once ruled over defy us by insulting the nation. Yet that isn’t even my biggest criticism of the musical. Perhaps this is a cop-out but the biggest fault is the fact that it’s just bad.
There is nothing to get from watching this piece of sacrilege. If you try to watch it hoping it’ll actually be enjoyable you’ll only be sorely disappointed. If you try to watch it critically or as research, all that you’ll learn is when a musical is bad, people won’t like it. And aside from one or two instances of a lack of self-awareness, there isn’t even any ironic enjoyment to be found.
Diana is just bad.
A lot of the acting left much to be desired. The writing was almost laughable (almost, again not quite ironically bad enough to laugh at). The singing was nothing to write home to Mummy dearest about. The tone was all over the place, going from Hamilton, to a weird satire, to dealing with mental health, to a whacky romcom narrated by the Home Bargains version of Betty White, and then back to hell all in a matter of minutes.
I don’t particularly care for the royals, but even I have to admit that it was incredibly tone-deaf and rather insulting to Diana, considering all the things she went through and did for the world. With that being said, I would also feel as though the good name of Osama Bin Laden was besmirched if he had such a piece of propaganda made against him.
There is probably a whole lot more that could be said about this topic, but as I’m sure you’ll have figured out by now, I am painfully underqualified to give genuine criticism. If you’re looking for someone smart to write about musicals then I would be more than happy to link you some right here, consider it an act of goodwill for reading whatever drivel I thought was funny at one in the morning.
https://mouthingoffmagazine.com/tiktok-the-musical-an-artform-or-just-another-meme/ (Uh oh, did one of mine accidentally make the list???)
Normally with a review like this, I would end it with a breakdown, maybe give a summary of all my thoughts neatly tied up and a rating out of 100. But I genuinely have no idea how to score this. I can’t fully pin down what I don’t like and what could be changed to improve Diana The Musical. It would almost feel unfair for me to give a sincere rating as I can barely even articulate to myself how I feel about this piece of ‘theatre’
In the end, Diana the musical is just bad. Whatever bad is anyway.
Illustrated by Beth Herbert