Live Event: Joan Collins Unscripted – Theatre Severn, September 13th, 2016
Dame Joan Collins, magnificent woman, star, sassy and sexy, beloved of all women over the age of ….ahem. One could say she is an ‘old style’ movie star, but her change to television in the 80s with Dynasty lead her to become an actress of two parts, elevating her above her contemporaries to become a true Icon.
The opportunity to be in the same ROOM as Dame Joan (albeit a big room) was unmissable, so my friend Andrea and I went along to Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury and sat in the Gods for the sold out show. Oh if ONLY we were closer, as we were too far away to get a real blast of the Joan magnificence, but thankfully the sparkles kept me going. Sparkles? Yes, her clothes, her jewellery, her personality, clipped, a little frosty, terribly posh, but always glittery. She looked fabulous.
A stripped bare stage, a TV screen behind her and two armchairs, Joan came onstage aided by her exceedingly charming husband Percy and the show began. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I thought it would be along the lines of the recent Arnold and Sly events, with an ‘Interviewer’ (Jonathan Ross) chatting about their careers then open it up to audience questions. But no, it was all audience questions, and unfortunately if you are reliant on those questions you could be in trouble.
There are 4 tiers in Theatre Severn, so this meant that only the very bottom stalls could have a microphone passed around. The circle and above, were invited to Tweet questions with the Hashtag #askdamejoan. Now this could be a problem as I’d say 70% of the audience were ‘older’ and not wishing to make a sweeping negative statement about older people not being able to use Twitter, I don’t think a lot of people do, so that excluded them. When the show had finished I noticed that the stall selling books had pieces of paper on for people to write questions, but this was on the 1st floor, leaving the 2nd and 3rd floors out. No tweeted questions were asked, but a few written ones were. The questions belonged to the stalls, one girl getting to ask twice which annoyed a group of ladies sitting next to us immensely. So I do think the way of choosing questions was rather unfair. Having experienced a few similar shows I know that ‘questions from the audience’ simply do NOT work, unless they are vetted beforehand.
Unfortunately the questions were…. pretty boring. No one asked about her career, or particular films, one asked about her experiences with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra and James Dean, and this is when the show worked; Joan was animated and gave such detailed and interesting answers – she tried her damndest to steer most questions in an interesting direction, which is hard when the question is ‘how do you look so young’? Percy also tried to steer the conversation in an interesting way, but the show was literally in the hands of the stalls, and the stalls were obviously not film fans.
Whoever worked backstage did an amazing job of playing relevant film clips and showing photos of Joan with the person she was talking about, and then there was Joan herself, who was the epitome of class and style, and her sparky personality and intelligence was evident, and the show could have been amazing if only the questions were … interesting. Now this could sound like sour grapes as I tweeted a few questions, and I guess it is! I wanted to know about her making The Stud and The Bitch, Land of the Pharaohs (I love that film), The Virgin Queen (But not Empire of the Ants). This is an actress who apart from her colourful private life has had a truly amazing career in film. Having said that though being able to see such a great old school star talk about (some) of her life was a real thrill for me and I enjoyed it despite the ‘Joan Collins fan club/and congratulations on being a gay icon’ questions (groan). There is SO much more to Joan than her skin care regime and I’m quite sad of the missed opportunity to …. not be on the stage with her instead of Percy.
I would love to see Joan interviewed onstage by someone who knows her films and career, as I do feel that the Q&A was a missed opportunity for some real insight into a star who is bloody amazing. But in the meantime….. Beauty tip 1: She splashes cold water on her face, I’m sure I heard her sigh…..
Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With)