At an age when most people contemplate their dotage, actress, writer and mother Joan Collins gamely takes the role of host in this one-woman show, detailing the highs and lows of her career in showbusiness. The facts and figures you can pick up from Wikipedia, but what Collins gives us is the personal touch, an affectionate and pragmatic view of a life lived to the full but never to excess.
Joan Collins in One Night With Joan at the Leicester Square Theatre, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
Those looking for a sob story need to look elsewhere, as Collins immediately establishes that she had a happy childhood and, despite the four divorces, several law suits and seriously questionable film choices, she remains at her most content when surrounded by her family. A jobbing actor with a gypsy lifestyle, Collins found fame and infamy on both sides of the Atlantic but never lost the ability to laugh at herself, endearing her to generations of fans.
Collins’ self-penned script is witty and insightful, condensing an autobiography into slick, entertaining sound bites delivered with the energy of an enthusiastic ingenue. It’s all here from Land of the Pharaohs to Dynasty via Empire of the Ants and The Bitch, proving if nothing else that Collins’ body of work is probably one of the more colourful in screen history.
Thanks to designer Oliver Sones, who the host generously introduces on stage, the evening is given a backdrop of tantalising video clips and stills from Collins’ career. From gorgeous child to wasp-waisted vamp, from small screen to CinemaScope, Collins’ acting career might not be critic proof but she is certainly a part of Hollywood folklore and in a world full of mere celebrity, she remains a genuine British star.