"Die, Die, Diana" is every bit as tasteless, sophomoric, and blatantly offensive as the title of this locally written and produced play about the life and death of Princess Diana implies.
It was also very funny and well acted, directed, and sung. In fact, it was one of the best productions the Hal Todd Studio Theatre at San Jose State University has seen recently.
What allows "Die, Die, Diana" to be so successful is the next laugh is never more than a few lines away.
Oftentimes, a parody such as this becomes uncomfortable when the line between uncomfortable when the line between comedy and being mean for the sake of being mean is blurred. There is no uncomfortableness here.
While all the characters are portrayed as having very serious character flaws ranging from Charles' love for sadomasochism to his sons' childish behavior, there is never any question whether it is meant to be funny or mean.
For example, Dodie Fayed - Princess Di's Egyptian-born boyfriend at the time of her death - is portrayed as a "Euro-trash playboy" whose main goal is to marry a princess and increase his visibility in the world. He goes as far as to pay photographers to follow him around wherever he and Di appear together, which is clearly meant to be funny.
Almost every scene Dodi is in takes place in a 1970s style disco with Dodi in complete Saturday Night Feveresque gear. From his aviator glasses to his hairy chest to his gold necklace, Dodi is obviousl ynot to be taken seriously. David Legois does a good job of portraying this character. Although he is far from the best singer in the cast, he makes up for it with his delivery of his lines and songs.
Renee Cunha is nothing short of amazing in the starring role. Her voice is magnificent and, although she appears in lingerie several times, she never seems uncomfortable with the role. Without her, it is hard to imagine this play working as well as it does.
However, she has plenty of help. Laura Patterson as Queen Elizabeth II, Breton Nicholson as Prince Charles and Michelle Jones as Charles' mistress Camilla all sing and act their parts impeccably.
They, along with Cunha, are what really make this play more than just another joke. "Diana" was not just funny but also good.
The play was extremely well researched and written , which shows up in the songs as well as the social commentary.
Nothing is considered too sacred.
Everyone from homosexuals to Shakespeare to Andrew Lloyd Webber is an object of ridicule.
The royal family, as would be expected, takes the brunt of the majority of the jokes. Charles is portrayed as a selfish, cocky, sex maniac; Elizabeth as a bad mother who wishes she could breed children like horses; the Queen Mum as a useless, washed-up figure head and Edward - Charles' younger brother who actually never appears - as a flaming, cross-dressing homosexual.
Diana may, in fact, be portrayed as the most likeable of all the characters.
One actually begins to feel sorry for Diana and her plight of being seen as a piece of meat. The murder-mystery aspect of the play is eerily believable and even forces the question, "Was Di's death really an accident?"
While the shock value of "Die, Die, Diana" is what helped sell out the opening weekend, the quality is what will ensure success throughout its running.
This play is definitely worth seeing for anyone who did not attend a Princess Di vigil. Those that did on the other hand, may want to stay away because of its tasteless humor.