A Princess Undone

Malvern Theatres


Princess Margaret – here presented as brassy, coarse, brash and cynical! Unlike her sister who embraced her role with a powerful sense of duty and destiny, Margaret is portrayed as having all the trappings of being royal without the purpose and clarity of function.

Richard Stirling’s play is a snapshot in her life. In her earlier life she had been something of a swinger and party girl. Smoking, drinking, drugs and the culture of the sixties and seventies coloured her life and some of her associations were colourful and indeed dubious.

The snapshot of this production presents us with Margaret in a later phase of her life. She is looking to burn letters and photos that might bring embarrassment to the Royal family from her own past behaviour and from the liaisons of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and the failure of their marriage.

While many of the Royal household are away at Balmoral, she has the run of Kensington Palace and the opportunity to meet and try to buy off one of the more sordid individuals from her past.


Harriet Thorpe as Princess Margaret

The action or plot of this play is quite limited. The focus is more on the character of this disenchanted princess, her emptiness, coarseness and cynicism. She is frankly rather pitiful.

Harriet Thorpe looks the part and provides a strong performance as Margaret. She manages to engage our sympathy to a large degree, not just our pity. Underlying all her decadence there is a loyalty to her sister and family, that means she does not wish to shame them, despite all her own weakness and failure.

She is supported by a small and strong cast: David Benson plays the Queen Mother’s butler who is waiting upon the princess for this evening. He gives a crisp, sharp-tongued performance that lacks significant deference to her Royal Highness

Charles Daisy plays John Bindon, a former gangster and actor, and he spars with the Princess through the second half of the play as she tries to manipulate him. His rough, worldly character adds some spice and contrast to the snobbish Royal though he lacks any real respect for the lost princess.

Giles Cooper completes the cast as the young friend of Viscount Linley, Tristan Peel. He is not quite smart enough to avoid being outwitted by the older generation.

The set provides an imposing and appropriately lavish setting to be the interior of a royal palace. The production overall is full of cleverly witty dialogue and repartee. It is something of an exposé of the moral emptiness behind the dignified exterior provided by some elements of the royal household.  The limited plot however means the production never quite sparkles or takes off. It is well acted and well produced but lacks development and does not sufficiently grip us as an audience. To 04-11-17

Tim Crow


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