In a welcome resurgence of theatre-gig crossovers at the Fringe, Peter Arnott’s Janis Joplin: Full Tilt — a sexy, explosive profile of the fourth member to join the 27 Club — arrives with brute force. Under development from its inception at the Play, Pie and a Pint series, Cora Bissett’s funky, soulful and feverishly memorable production owes almost all of its success to a blistering central performance by Angie Darcy as Janis.
Walking us from the dull days of Texas to the thick-smoke, drug-wired parties of California, Darcy tears through some of Joplin’s classic hits to both entertain and electrify. She has studied her subject with devotion and canny observation to discover the hidden quirks of Joplin’s interior and exterior personalities. It is simple, nuanced but effective direction from Bissett who punctures the narrative with songs, as chaotic and fired-up as Darcy’s performance. It’s a shame that it’s kept to an hour; there is much more to be said here about Joplin, to unravel deeper complexities that many biopics in cinema have recently explored (a renaissance that is most welcome). To that end, we’re left wanting so much more, ironically as fans of Joplin were in real life.