Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review: Janis ***

Janis is an accomplished one-woman performance, recounting the life & career highs and lows of Janis Joplin.

Nicola Haydn turns in an extremely well-observed and characterised performance, evoking the speech and mannerisms of the iconic singer so accurately that the suspension of disbelief takes only a few minutes to happen, and you are convinced it is Joplin herself recounting her thoughts and fears to you from an intimate and sparse set, centered around her bed.

Joplin's life story is told in mostly linear fashion, and this works best when her personal thoughts and neuroses are centered on rather than her well-publicised exploits on and off stage. That said, it doesn't drag and the performance carries the piece along through its strength of character and pacing.

The play is practically all monologue, and perhaps surprisingly it is only in the last few minutes of the performance that Haydn takes up the acoustic guitar - previously left untouched at the side of the set - and proves that she is equally capable of channelling the spirit of Joplin's music as she is her character.

Janis runs until Aug 31st at The Gilded Balloon. £12 (£10 concession)

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