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In Her Own Words: The Diana Tapes

by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jun 28, 2017
In Her Own Words: The Diana Tapes

What Will The Neighbors Say? (WWTNS?), a theater company based in New York City, presents "In Her Own Words: The Diana Tapes," a compelling retelling of English journalist Andrew Morton's tumultuous effort to publish his 1992 tell-all book, "Diana: Her True Story," which painted an especially unflattering portrait of the British royal family and effectively ended Princess Diana's marriage to Prince Charles.

The intense, hour-long drama was written by WWTNS? co-artistic director, James Clements, who also dutifully portrays Andrew Morton. The play reenacts a series of meetings, beginning with Morton and Diana's close friend and confidante, Dr. James Colthurst (Jorge Morales Picó), who provides cassette tape recordings of the Princess, per her request, that reveal scandalous conduct unbecoming of the monarchy.

After Colthurst reluctantly permits Morton to share this development with his publisher, Michael O'Mara (Sam Hood Adrain), the doctor acts as a go-between, asking Diana (Ana Cristina Schuler) follow up questions posed by Morton and relaying back her responses. When Diana discloses the startling details of her suicide attempts and her husband's affair, the shocked Morton seeks proof.

Meanwhile, the typically intimate, friendly dialogue between James and Diana gets heated when he begins to question Morton's motives and advises the Princess to tread lightly with her honesty.

Considering Morton's book was published a quarter-century ago, the material here is hardly new or untold, yet the story still packs a punch and the interplay makes for intriguing theater. With only two chairs, a small table and Wednesday Derrico's simple, solid direction, these four actors and the playwright's words forcibly command the audience's attention and, in Diana's case, garner much warranted sympathy.

Clements delivers a blazing performance as the overzealous, unapologetically ambitious, brutally honest Morton, and Adrain is remarkably poised as the stoic tabloid master, O'Mara. Both men want the same thing, yet lock horns with their brutal honesty.

Picó easily earns the audience's trust and empathy with his tender, guarded portrayal of Colthurst, and Schuler's exquisite, understated performance conveys an anguished yet dignified Diana.

Diana's tragic death was almost two decades ago, and "In Her Own Words: The Diana Tapes" is a haunting reminder of her legacy.

"In Her Own Words: The Diana Tapes" runs thru July 2 at Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) Hub, 10 Davol Square in Providence. For information and tickets, email [email protected] or visit www.wwtns.org

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.

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