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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.