If you liked “Annabelle Dickson: The Musical” – the sequence from the satire series Summer heights high that tells the story of a high school student who died of a drug overdose – you’ll love the new Netflix special. Diana: The musical is the singing, dancing retelling from the life of Princess Diana, a story that is somehow not milked quite enough (we already pumped it intravenously in the latest series The crown, and a biopic starring Kristen Stewart is in preparation).
The show was supposed to premier on Broadway last year but was prevented from doing so by the pandemic: this is a pre-recorded version of the show without an audience, which aired on Netflix ahead of its live opening later this month. If it wasn’t bad enough that what is ultimately a tragedy that affects several people who are still very healthy and alive is still being squeezed for the remaining juice, this is in the worst of all forms: music theater.
if Diana: The musical was satire, it would be a comedy genius. There is a jazz hands choir, which is solemnly dressed in regal garb and cuts in with shy side dishes whenever the opportunity arises. There is a moment of calm from the thick, sugar-sweet harmonies when Charles and Diana go to a concert to hear the brook Cello suites – Unfortunately, Bach quickly turns into a kitschy little thing of the musical theater cliché, and the G major prelude becomes a glam rock number. (Similarly, if dialogue allows a few seconds of silence, you can bet someone is starting another nonsensical belt soon.) There have been bizarre attempts to get Diana’s story – popular with millennials – into 2021, however they manifest as pathetic anachronisms. In this particular Bach mashup, Diana longs for Charles to become “funkadelic,” and when Diana dances in ballet, the chorus tells us that “every move is on point.” Later, in a rough ballad before the divorce, she knowingly intones: “It serves me right to marry a Scorpio.”
Who on this damn earth is this damn show for? Uncynical Tarot Readers? Cheeky bosses? Ironic hipsters? The swear words give it away: Americans. Charles – the Prince of Wales! – Says “goddamn” and Diana says she’s been a “kindergarten” teacher, more than once, but in their most vicious and painful arguments they seem to only be able to call each other “goddamn shit”. Is that how we are viewed from the other side of the Atlantic? The Queen wears eyeliner and Camilla Parker-Bowles has inexplicably added the word “cuddling” to her vocabulary. America is touted as the country where everyone can express their feelings – Diana would be a perfect fit, says the Queen, ooh, burn! – but Parker-Bowles becomes a trembling wreck through the “life of Sundays”, which she would like to spend with the haughty Charles, boo, hiss.
I started to cry with laughter as Diana cooed “Harry, my red-haired son” into his crib, choked on my own tongue as the Queen turned into something of a widow Twankey Barbara Cartland (Diana’s favorite novelist) and fell off my chair when an entire number is dedicated to James Hewitt – who appears topless, rides a horse, the chorus simply shouts his name over and over again in impeccably tuned songs.
It seems incredible that one of these talented people can keep a straight face at literally every point during this two hour pantomime. How do you sing these lines with passion and fire? “Don’t act like a TARTE, Diana,” says Charles, while the paparazzi choir hits us in the first 15 minutes with what is arguably the worst line in theater history: catching Lady Di is “better than a Guinness, better than a wank” .
In Summer heights high Unfortunately, we never witness the groundbreaking work of Mr G. Tsunamarama – the story of the 2004 tsunami tragedy to the music of Bananarama. Still, I suspect Diana: The musical is at eye level. Real tragedies are reduced to crisp harmonies – the chorus sincerely sings “Suicide Attempts” and “Bulimia” to create a background atmosphere, and in the final sequence after the car crash I hear the line between the headlines that goes into the song “The Princess of Wales goes through a minefield in Angola ”. I aged 17 years in one hour and 57 minutes. What if you too want to spend those precious seconds of your life watching something like Dick Van Dyke talk? Daily mail Article as a mime lady, go ahead and tune in right away.
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