Starting life as part of Oran Mor’s lunchtime theatre programme and travelling via this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Janis Joplin: Full Tilt returns to the city after almost universal acclaim from both audience and critics alike.
Peter Arnott’s trimmed back biography of Joplin (an hour in length) gets right to the heart and soul of the artist and whilst concise, still provides the requisite fine detail to deliver an utterly gripping insight into the demons that plagued the singer from childhood and stayed with her even at the height of her fame. Never quite fitting in, Joplin the self-proclaimed: ‘flaky, ugly chick’ teetered uncomfortably between uncompromisingly standing up for what she believed in and trying to mould herself into someone that people would want to be with (consumed by hang ups about her looks and her inability to find love, she never quite managed to become what she wanted to be: ‘just Janice’).
Central to the success of the piece is Angela Darcy’s emotive performance as Joplin, convincingly portraying the singer’s physical mannerisms as well as her unique vocals; she manages to perfectly capture this woman who lived a thousand lifetimes in her 27 years.
The story and the staging are firmly focussed on Joplin and those looking for behind the scenes revelations about Joplin’s infamous friends may be disappointed, but this musical play enhanced by a knock-out live band is everything an audience could want from an evening in the theatre: raw, rousing and always real, just like Joplin herself.
Composers: Cora Bissett, The Kielty Brothers, Patricia Panther & MC Soom T
Director: Cora Bissett
Glasgow 2005, and the city and its high rise blocks have become home to a diverse range of asylum seekers. Drumchapel High School has become the focus for the children of these asylum seekers, but it’s a world where night-time raids happen with alarming frequency and children arrive at school every day to find out whether another classmate has disappeared, never to be seen again.
Glasgow Girls explores the true story of seven teenage girls for whom the situation has become personal. Together with their neighbours and one inspiring teacher, the girls embark on a campaign to secure the return of their friend Kosovan Roma Agnesa Murselaj, forcibly removed and detained after a nigh-time raid, and fight to change the UK Government’s policy on the detention of children of asylum seekers.
Returning triumphant to its spiritual home at the Citizens Theatre, two years after it’s debut, Glasgow Girlscouldn’t be more relevant in the year Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games and undertakes an historic vote in the Independence Referendum. It highlights the spirit of the Glaswegian people, their reaction to injustice and Glasgow’s protectiveness of those who choose to call the city home.
From dawn raids, deportation and detention, there is humour, hope and heart in this powerful, poignant, profound but utterly joyous and truly emotive piece of theatre. The subject matter is hard hitting for a musical and to its credit the book written by David Grieg, who’s last high profile work Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, continues to run in the West End, hasn’t shied away from portraying the less positive aspects of both the campaign and life in Glasgow, resisting both the urge to sugar coat the subject matter and descend into mawkish sentimentality. It also highlights the impotency of the Holyrood Government in the face of opposition from Westminster (it’s also the most eloquent advert for the YES campaign you’ll see or hear this year). Instead this is a bold, brave, blistering, beautiful joy to behold. The story is told with trademark Glaswegian humour which takes no prisoners and is consistently laugh out loud funny.
The music is as diverse as the girls it represents, there are modern musical theatre numbers with a Scottish twist by The Kielty Brothers and director/composer Cora Bissett, rap and urban tunes by Patricia Panther and MC Soom T. The spare but atmospheric set by Merle Hensel also compliments the story well: conjuring up the grey concrete of Glasgow’s high rise blocks perfectly.
The whole endeavour though, would not succeed as it does without the truly sensational cast. Each and every one is deserving of praise but special mention must go to the ‘grown ups’ Callum Cuthbertson as Mr. Girvan and Scottish theatrical legend Myra McFadyen as Noreen, both deliver perfectly judged performances: in turn, poignant, stirring, compelling and utterly hysterical.
Glasgow Girls has a sharp intelligent edge and is a perfect reflection of the big heart and community spirit of the city of its title, of female solidarity and of what we can all achieve if we put our hearts and minds together. Genuinely moving and inspiring. Utterly unmissable.