What if Princess Diana did not die in a Paris tunnel car crash but faked her own death and re-appeared two decades later?
That’s the explosive scenario imagined by a powerful new play which has two actors who studied in Wigan in its lead roles.
Die Diana, by Stephen M Hornby, digs into the continuing conspiracy theories around the iconic princess’s death and presents three different versions of her as she might appear today if she had lived.
Emily Heyworth and Ciaran Wilson, who both studied in the borough at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (Alra) North, both play aspects of Diana in the production, which will be put on at this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe Fest.
Emily, who now lives in Manchester, plays an aristocratic woman who steps out of the shadows to say she is Diana and explain why she staged her own demise while Ciaran embodies her anger issues in the shape of Dee, a young man in a secure hospital.
The play is being produced ahead of the 20th anniversary of the princess’s death in 2017 and examines issues including the cult of celebrity and the media’s relationship with those in the spotlight as well as questioning the reliability of the accounts being given on stage.
Emily, 38, said: “I play Diana as if she’s still alive now. She’s in her 50s talking about coming forward to tell people she is still alive. She is charming, funny, engaging and smart and she also has a real urgency to tell people why she is coming back. I think she is very plausible.
“I think the play is really intriguing. Stephen has spent a lot of time researching all the different stories around her and there’s also a lot of video footage of her talking about her past which he has collected.
“She’s one of the best-known figures of modern times and all these stories are presented without making judgement. It allows the audience to make their own decisions and have their own questions and thoughts.
“We haven’t got a wish to offend anyone although the title is potentially quite controversial. It’s not being done to shock or pique interest, it’s to engage the audience and raise questions.”
Emily was asked to audition for her role after playwright Stephen came to Wigan to produce The Box of Tricks, with fellow Alra graduate Ciaran also being recruited into the cast. Die Diana features footage of the princess herself speaking about her life and thoughts. It will be performed by Inkbrew Productions and make its premiere at Bandit Mugger and Thief on Manchester’s Canal Street on June 29 running until Friday July 5, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe 2016. Tickets are available at www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk