Review: Janis Joplin – Full Tilt

Angie Darcy in Janis Joplin: Full Tilt

Angie Darcy in Janis Joplin: Full Tilt - Credit: Archant

Angie Darcy encapsulates sixties blues legend Janis Joplin in an compelling performance at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

From the moment of that first swagger – a bottle of bourbon clutched in one hand and a dangled cigarette in the other – Angie Darcy has you hooked.

The eponymous star of Janis Joplin: Full Tilt is at once intoxicating and intense, entirely reminiscent of the singer herself.

That’s not to say you need to be a fan of the sixties blues legend to enjoy this engaging performance at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

The former Edinburgh Fringe show has enough merit to impress on many levels, whether it’s the raw emotion pervading the stage, Peter Arnott’s witty script or the poignant sadness of watching a talent lost too soon, submerged by terrible isolation, drink and drugs.

The format works for the most part. Audiences are treated to what is essentially a live Janis Joplin gig, interspersed with frequent monologues from Darcy’s Joplin on the superficialities of fame or being called “a freak”.

In lesser hands, it could have been easy to tire of a show delivered almost single-handedly by one performer but the actress’s hypnotism easily carries the first half.

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At once wild and painfully vulnerable, Darcy also captures the essence of Joplin’s music with her soaring vocals.

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart may not be the musical highlight you had hoped thanks to an unusual arrangement but Gershwin’s Summertime is so gorgeous you won’t want to end.

The second half has been developed more fully with Janis’s bandmates stepping up for acting duties that leave wishing you for a few more to see the lively interactions Janis had in her real conversations in addition to her imagined ones.

However the powerful performance of the central actress will stay with you long after leaving.

The show runs now until March 5 at Theatre Royal Statford East. Book at click here