Joan Collins, arguably the UK’s most glamorous export, touches down on home turf with her autobiographical show detailing the numerous highs and lows of a career spanning half a century. Clad in a pair of gold sequinned flairs, she struts about the stage recounting various anecdotes and gently poking fun at the journey to her current position as TV icon.
Following a simple chronology, Collins begins with her childhood dreams of acting that led to a rather enviable RADA training. Through a series of video clips, she jovially explains her relatively unhindered manoeuvre into the world of showbiz starting with her involvement with the prestigious Rank Organisation. Swiftly moving onto the more recognisable backdrop of Hollywood, Collins examines the pressure she felt to look and behave a certain way as a young woman endeavouring to make a name for herself. She quite honestly reveals the difficulties of her first marriage but is tactfully discreet when handling the subject of her subsequent husbands, moving instead to focus on her internationally celebrated role as Alexis on the cult classic Dynasty.
Perhaps the most notable and impressive aspect of One Night with Joan is Ms Collins’ ebullient and infectious joie de vivre. Her energy and enthusiasm somewhat immortalise her and it becomes increasingly difficult to picture her as a seasoned octogenarian as she effortlessly glides through the timeline of her career. Collins very cleverly reminds us of her colossal success in Dynasty as she unveils a collection of out-takes from filming. Demonstrating an ability to mock herself, she displays a tact that has surely contributed to the longevity of her career. At points, the atmosphere lulls as Collins reacquaints herself with her on-screen prompt but, considering the mountain of experiences she recalls, this is very quickly forgiven. The audience frequently anticipates some previously untold gossip or scandal from behind the scenes but this is only indulged with careful measure.
While Joan Collins has clearly moved from strength to strength in almost all areas of showbusiness, she paints something of an idealised picture of her progress. Her retelling appears appropriately glossy but its innocence contradicts the reputation as a blithe diva that is so greatly celebrated. An intimate Q&A session at the end of the evening gives us a rare glimpse at the woman behind the famed bouffant. The view is nothing short of delightful.
Reviewed by Alex Foott
Performance date – Sunday 2nd February 2014
Joan Collins plays at London’s Leicester Square Theatre until Sunday. Click here for tickets.