Theatre Review - The Interview

THE 1995 Panorama interview between Princess Diana and Martin Bashir was watched by millions worldwide. Diana used the opportunity to speak candidly about Charles’s infidelities and her depression. The interview has since been banned and Bashir came under renewed scrutiny.

The first part of Jonathan Maitland’s absorbing drama looks at the months leading up to the broadcast and examines how Bashir (Tibu Fortes) persuaded Diana (Yolanda Kettle) to put her trust in him.

Maitland, who once shared an office with Bashir and presumably knows something of his character, emphasises the reporter’s shameless wooing of Diana. To support his case, Bashir forged bank statements and helped fuel Diana’s paranoia of conspiracies against her.

In the second half, Maitland shifts his attention to the fallout. At the time, the BBC delighted with his scoop, had turned a blind eye to Bashir’s machinations. Maitland suggests their subsequent decision to never air the interview again was hypocritical and blatant censorship.

Michael Fentiman’s slick, well-paced production takes place on a bare stage – chairs, cameras and mics are carried on and off. The audience on all sides gives a palpable sense of the constant scrutiny endured by Diana.

Kettle and Fortes are convincing in the lead roles. While Kettle captures many of Diana’s tics – the head tilt and downward glance – she doesn’t quite carry off her voice.

Matthew Flynn as Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, Naomi Frederick’s lady-in-waiting, and Ciaran Owens doubling up as a TV exec and graphic designer offer solid support.

Until November 25

Originally publihed by the Islington Tribune