Writer: Peter Arnott
Director: Cora Bissett
Reviewer: John Roberts
Jukebox musicals have almost become enshrined in musical theatre tradition now, most shows in the west end and touring feature the back catalogue of several artists and are usually also coupled with anodyne and poorly written plots however with Full Tilt, we are safe from the bohemians of We Will Rock You or the Greek Islands of Mamma Mia as we are given an unflinching look at the tortured soul of Janice Lyn Joplin aka Pearl.
Originally written to form part of Glasgow’s Oran Mor Play, Pie and Pint serious of lunchtime productions Janice Joplin: Full Tilt takes a look at one of music’s most prolific singer songwriters, powerfully portrayed by Angela Darcy who arguably gives one of the fiercest and most soul-searching performances on the fringe this year. Not only does she capture the demon’s pulling down Joplin but she also pulls out a stunning set of vocals too.
Director Cora Bissett doesn’t need to rely on musical gimmicks to make Full Tilt work, instead she strips the production right back and gives an understated production that feels raw and full of passion. This strength is backed up by Peter Arnott’s gripping text – by carefully selecting certain elements of Joplin’s life to play out – be it in the form of a memory or speaking to an invisible interviewer, the piece plays out as part live concert and part backstage insight, with the former having songs linked specifically to the latter to gain a stronger and deeper insight to the artist, who at the tender age of just 27 couldn’t find solace with who she was and tragically died through a drug and alcohol overdose.
As fringe productions go, you can’t get better than Janice Joplin: Full Tilt which is a triumph from start to finish, and something every member of the cast and company should be immensely proud of.
Runs until 25th August