Janis Joplin: Full Tilt - Oran Mor, Glasgow
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Peter Arnott’s new Play, Pie And Pint show about the brief, blazing life of Janis Joplin features a four-piece band, and a short appearance from Samuel Keefe as Janis’s last-ever hotel desk clerk; but its centrepiece is a performance from Angie Darcy as Janis, so brilliant and intense both musically and dramatically that it lifts the hairs on the back of the neck.
In a brief 45 minutes of monologue and song – with one muted intervention from Janis’s lead guitarist, Harry Ward, – Arnott’s play, often based on Joplin’s own words, explores two main shaping influences on her life and music. The first is her full-tilt 1960s rebellion against the small-town values with which she was brought up, in 1950s Texas. “I am the rock, you are the f***ing window!” she roars, enraged by the racism and sexism of that world.
The other strand, though, lies in Joplin’s profound yearning for a love and acceptance that – as a big, chunky, noisy, raging woman artist – she never really found anywhere; and the overwhelming sadness that drove her not only to her finest work, but also to drink, drugs, and a lonely hotel room death at 27. In the end, Joplin was a great singer and musician destroyed by the raw and often agonising emotional truth that powered her songs. In her brief hours on stage, though, she left a brilliant and unanswerable musical legacy, magnificently celebrated by Darcy and the company in Cora Bissett’s production; and to judge by the response of the Oran Mor audience, it’s a legacy that blazes on, more than 40 years after Janis’s very last night on the town.