“If you’ve not had a 4-part miniseries made about you, you’ve not lived”
Imagining a meeting between the woman who nearly brought down the monarchy and the woman credited with saving it, Chris Ioan Roberts’ Dead Royal sees him take on both the roles of an 82-year-old Wallis Simpson and a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer in a fiercely funny hour of high-camp high comedy. The plot, insofar as the piece technically needs something to hang on, sees the ageing Duchess of Windsor determined to warn Diana off her impending nuptials, whilst the younger woman is after a significant pearl necklace that Wallis kept with her after the abdication crisis subsided.
But Dead Royal is less about story and much more about storytelling as Roberts does a magnificent job of inhabiting the twisted characterisations he has created. Swimming in a sea of pink Charbonnel et Walker chocolate boxes and surrounded by (unseen) servants who can never make her happy, this Wallis is a witheringly caustic delight, any fragility offset by a long-held bitterness that feeds her like a toxic energy, trying unsuccessfully to fend off the loneliness that her situation has placed her in, her barbed observations cutting deep even as she feigns a long-wearied self-deprecation.