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ONE NIGHT WITH JOAN

Joan Collins, Leicester Square Theatre, BargainTheatreland ReviewThere is no denying that Joan Collins belongs to the pantheon of British Screen Legends. Having been a brief Hollywood star at the end of The Golden Era, the personification of everything 80s camp in Dynasty and the new Snickers ‘Diva’, she has covered all genres from high LA glamour to cheap British tat. The latter being Footballer’s Wives, just so we’re clear.

Collins, who is fast approaching her 80th birthday, radiates glamour out of every pore. By her own admission, she never leaves the house as anything but presentable after being told by the big names of The Golden Era to always look your best, and hasn’t been within ten feet of a pair of jeans since the 50s.

Her aura and legend aside, there is something very off and slightly jarring about the show. Less of a regaling of an incredibly fascinating life by the woman who lived through it, it has the feeling of someone performing actions whilst miming to the audiobook. I would have thought that someone like Joan Collins, who has for the last 20 years based her career around telling stories from the first 50 years of her career, would be so relaxed in this environment that it would be like sitting down with your grandmother as she told tales from her childhood over a cuppa and a Garibaldi. In actuality, there is a considerable amount of girlish overacting, far too much unnecessary staging, baffling over-scripting and a heavy reliance on technology. The use of video footage from her extensive career is clever on the whole, and a nice way to remind the audience of her body of work, however missed cues lead to several eggy pauses. There was one skin-crawlingly awkward moment where Joan waited for a prop telephone to ring before she could answer it. Toes did curl.

Despite this, the night on the whole was very enjoyable. When Collins did relax, usually during a brief moment of ad-libbing or stumbling over her words, she was warm, hilarious and very, very cheeky. She has impeccable comedic timing and razor sharp wit. She plays herself up, doesn’t take herself too seriously and has an unbelievable youthful vigor for a woman of her advancing years.

One Night With Joan isn’t a night of scandalous revelations, neither a night of flawlessness by any stretch of the imagination.  Importantly, however, it isn’t a night of self-indulgent exorbitance. It is an enjoyable, down-to-earth, often stilted evening of quips, anecdotes and a rather ill-informed musical number, from a veritable National Treasure. Plus, I dare anyone to show me a 79 year old who can pull off black spangly leggings like the inimitable Joan Collins. Liza…take note!

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Reviewed 14/04/13

By Tom Norman
@Tom_Norm

14th Apr 2013 (On UK tour)
Leicester Square Theatre, London, WC2.

Further dates: www.joancollins.net

 

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