City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Janis Joplin: Full tilt, Assembly Checkpoint, Review

By Justine Blundell - Posted on 12 August 2014

Janis Joplin Full Tilt performance
Show details
Regular Music supported by the National Theatre of Scotland in association with Richard Jordan Productions
Running time: 
Peter Arnott (writer), Cora Bissett (director)
Angie Darcy (Janis Joplin), Harry Ward (Musical Director /Electric Guitar), Andy Barbour (Keys), Chris Freer( Bass /Acoustic ) and James Grant (Drums) as The Full Tilt Boogie Band.

Janis Joplin might be gone, but more than forty years since her death, she is still not forgotten.

There were queues round the block for Janis Joplin: Full Tilt, written by Fringe First winner Peter Arnott. Many of those queuing were old enough to remember Joplin in life, but there were also many young faces in the crowd. This may have been testament to the power of Joplin’s music that has lived on through the generations, or it may have been word of mouth power that brought such an enthusiastic audience to this undeniably superb show.

The stage was set for a rock concert: drums, guitars and a keyboard were bathed in blue spotlights, looking hazy through the dry ice. The only clues to this being a piece of theatre were a coat stand and dressing room mirror, draped in beads and a feather boa. When the band came on stage, followed by Angela Darcy as Janis and the music kicked in – hard and loud – it sent palpable shivers of excitement right through the room. The band and Darcy were absolutely electric.

In between classic Joplin tracks, Darcy told her story. Thanks to Arnott’s clever script, this was often in Janis’s own words which, together with Darcy’s pitch-perfect performance, gave the whole piece an eerily authentic feel. Janis spoke of her habit of purging and binging: aged eight, it was food, by the age of 14 it was drink - and the rest is history.

She also recurringly spoke about not fitting in – either with her racist, sexist community in America’s deep south in the 1950s, or among the glamorous and beautiful, when she finally joined the rich and famous set. Self-deprecating and humorous with a loud and filthy mouth – ‘I’m not Audrey f**king Hepburn - in case you didn’t get that’ – she was, as her former band-mate described her, always hiding in plain sight and too sad to stop having fun. By the age of 27 she was dead.

Darcy’s acting is remarkable, but her singing has to be heard to be believed. This hour-long performance is dazzling on every level. Definitely do not miss it.

Runs until 24th August (not 12th or 19th) at 20:50.