The glamourous Joan Collins rolled into the West End last night and kicked off a week stint at the Leicester Square Theatre. Her one woman show, One Night With Joan, is directed by husband number 5 Percy Gibson, whom she reveals has given her the happiest twelve years of her life.
For those of us not in the know “there was life before Dynasty,” laughs Collins and off we go on a journey through the Hollywood years, pretty much a camp exploration of the star’s resume with punchy one-liners and amusing anecdotes. Early nerves quickly settle and Collins hits her stride with a show that relies heavily on slick video clips and photography stills.
Anyone expecting a raucous ride of big reveals may be slightly disappointed. This is a mild, somewhat glossy observation of a pretty stunning career. Collins name-drops throughout but actually that’s what we want, and moments of self-deprecation allow us to see the human face behind the style.
The most touching anecdote comes in the second act with an account of the 90’s publishing trial that took its toll. Collins was famously sued for an advance from Random House, arguing that she’d failed to deliver a publishable book. Footage of her breaking down in the first day of the court case plays out while Collins looks on visibly moved. She reveals a call from a lawyer friend helped her fight back channeling her bitchy Dynasty character Alexis. It perhaps helped her win the case. The show is at its best in these moments where integrity shines through.
One Night With Joan is camp, bitchy, fabulous. Yet slightly measured. Now that the press night is out of the way, Collins will surely channel more of that Dynasty character, puffing up those imaginary shoulder pads and taking the West End by storm. Oh, and she looks sensational.
*** (3 stars)
Runs until 9th February 2014