Tag Archives: Cora Bissett

Janis Joplin: Full Tilt, Oran Mor, Glasgow – 17th September, 2015

Janis Joplin Full Tilt

You know something is good when you keep going back. I’ve seen the show Janis Joplin: Full Tilt, three times. Every time it’s been amazing, due to the stellar performance by Angie Darcy in the lead role. I can’t imagine anyone else depicting the singer’s triumphs and ultimately tragic end.

Janis’s story is told through a mixture of song and theatre bringing her character to life. We hear how she struggled to fit in in her native Texas where she was born in 1943. How she went to California to make music, where she partied hard, how she returned home but found the lure of music and the pull of California too strong and she returned in 1966. Peppered throughout the show are her famous hits including Piece of My Heart, which hit the number one spot, as well as the yearning Mercedes Benz and Kris Kristofferson’s gorgeous country ballad Me And Bobby Gee (a new and welcome addition for this updated version of the show).

Angie Darcy as Janis Joplin

Angie Darcy as Janis Joplin

Her larger than life character commands the stage where she is backed by an excellent supportive band. But for all the brash confidence, displays of flamboyance, and obvious talent, underneath is a vulnerable woman who harbours a need for love and acceptance.

We see her life sadly unravelling leading to her death, alone in a hotel room in 1970. She was 27.

The play is based on the singer’s own transcripts and as the lights go down, Angie Darcy remains silent, allowing a crackly recording of Janis’s voice to speak to us through the darkness.

The play was originally formed for Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint series, written by Peter Arnott and directed by Cora Bissett in association with Regular Music and supported by the National Theatre of Scotland.  It has since gone on tour to win many deserved awards and critical acclaim.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin


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Edinburgh Festival – Whatever Gets You Through The Night – August 2013

Whatever Gets You Through The Night - Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013It’s difficult to categorise Whatever Gets You Through The Night, it’s part-gig, part-theatre, but more simply, it’s an experience. 

The time is 4am, an hour considered too early to get up but too late to sleep. So what do people do at this awkward hour? It’s a void waiting to be filled with magical moments or a waking nightmare.

Scotland at night is imagined as a series of vignettes, depicting lovelorn insomniacs to hopeful romantics.

The show was created by Cora Bissett, Edinburgh band Swimmer One and David Greig. It also features contributions from writers such as Alan Bissett, Stef Smith and Kieran Hurley. Songs include Eugene Kelly’s Chips n’ Cheese and Emma Pollock’s Dark Skies.

Whatever Gets You Through The NightThe piano melody of Seafieldroad’s The Palace of Light was accompanied by Jen Paterson performing acrobatics with giant sheets suspended from the ceiling. The material eventually became a hammock as she disappeared to sleep inside a giant silk cocoon hanging in the air. The effect was stunning.

Whatever Gets You Through The Night


A young woman, the brilliant Frances Thorburn, was drinking wine and waiting by her laptop for her internet date. This was funny, tender and heartbreaking as her hopes for love faded to disappointment.

Saturday night in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street was played out on film, a repetitive montage to a hazy hallucinatory tune written by Kieran Hurley. And we saw a young lad as he staggered and swaggered along the streets, amid drunken bodies and neon lights.

In another scene, a taxi driver picked up a drunk, young girl and later on there was an ode to Chips n’ Cheese, a song written by Eugene Kelly which celebrates the drink-influenced delicacy of a night out.

Meanwhile further north in Aberdeen, we imaged the sea and the pier, as a woman tried to sell roses to couples romancing in the dark, and case of mistaken identity led to the sweet promise of love.

Paradoxically the darkness can serve to illuminate and exaggerate. Loneliness is exacerbated and in the dark you can feel like you are the only person in the world. It’s a feeling encapsulated by Isabel Wright as she gives birth on her own, taking a solitary journey into an unknown world.

And is the dark a comfort or a curse? A widower travels to Loch Lomond, he’s saying goodbye to his late wife, he’s alone with only thoughts of her and her ghost dancing with him.

It’s difficult to pin Whatever Gets You Through The Night into a genre. It’s a mixed bag, it’s thought-provoking and emotion-stirring.

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

Co-producer/collaborator of the show Andrew Eaton-Lewis, also of Edinburgh band Swimmer One and Seafieldroad says:

“It’s a bit like a circus. A bit like a cabaret. A bit like a party. A bit like a lullaby”.  

It’s a good description.

There’s an album of beautifully crafted songs which includes the sublime The North Star by Ricky Ross and Rachel Sermanni’s Lonely Taxi, 2am.

Buy the album here: Whatever Gets You Through The Night – buy the album through Bandcamp

For more about the creation of the show read this interview with Andrew Eaton-Lewis.

Interview with Andrew Eaton-Lewis

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Filed under Music, Scotland, Theatre reviews