Janis (3 stars)

This article is from 2009


Challenging the legend behind the music

A one-woman show charting the rise and demise of Janis Joplin, one of the greatest blues singers and most personally troubled stars of the 1960s. The scene is a hotel room in Hollywood, where the singer is believed to have died from a heroin overdose. From there we are invited on a journey through her childhood in the small Texan town of Port Arthur, her first performance with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the circumstances that made her final recording days in LA her last.

The tale is told from the perspective of Janis herself, who calmly drinks her way through the show with a bottle of her ever-present Southern Comfort and injects the fatal narcotics which brought about her premature death. Although the acting is not outstanding, the female lead does manage to capture the spirit of the singer and has her unique giggle down to a fine art. There is an intentional lack of Janis Joplin’s music throughout, as the show focuses more on the personal issues that stopped her reaching her full potential as a blues superstar. There are, however, some carefully selected snippets which go well with the lonely character presented on stage.

Gilded Balloon, 622 6552, until 31 Aug 2009 (not 18 &24), 5.30pm, £10--£12 (£9--£10).


  • 3 stars

Driven by her insecurities, Janis Joplin embraced the hedonistic spirit of the sixties, becoming one of the most iconic celebrities of her generation. This compelling one-woman play challenges the legend and uncovers the complex, vulnerable woman hiding behind it.

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