Thursday, August 14, 2008

Joan Rivers - A Life in Progress ****

US comedy legend Joan Rivers has two shows at this year's festival. One is a stand-up routine, and this, the other is a comedy play based on her life and experiences.

I'm definitely glad I chose this one (stand-up is not my bag anyway). For 90 minutes, we are treated to Rivers in fine form, impressing equally with her (at times foul-mouthed - I've never heard a 75 year old grandmother use the 'c' word before...) humour and her acting.

Set in a dressing room prior to a red carpet show in the States, Rivers interacts with her fellow performers (a Russian make-up artist, a gay Jewish assistant producer and an acerbic TV network manager) and with the audience. Both angles work well, and there are some viciously hilarious moments in the play, mostly at the other actors expense. When speaking across the fourth wall, Rivers truly comes alive and this allows her to vent her infamous spleen and also to reflect on some of the more intimate and moving episodes from her own life.

At several moments throughout the show, she makes the point that theatre and the entertainment industry is her life: she knows no other way and she's not finished yet. On the strength of this show, I can believe that and hope that she's right.

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