Tomorrow May Be My Last
Tomorrow May Be My Last
at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London
“She carries a fairly threadbare plot on her sheer power”
If you don’t know about Janis Joplin, you may be excused for thinking you’d entered a strange world. There is 1960s rebellion and references to drug-taking, with live music and a grumpy, drunken woman who we are told is famous. We have to take her word for it. And we do - mainly because of the riveting performance of Collette Cooper.
For this show, which has a residency until May, The Old Red Lion’s theatre is split in two - a ‘stage’ for performing and a ‘backstage’ for reminiscing. Tomorrow May Be My Last is also in two halves - stunning singing and music which is in-your-face and unashamedly loud and proud, then quiet contemplation from a Janis who is drunk on anger as well as Southern Comfort. We constantly flip from on and off stage, something that doesn’t quite work - it’s like there are two plays fighting for dominance and as strong a performer as she is, Cooper genuinely gets the audience during the singing sections, but, although she tries to get us to join in and have fun (to let our hippie hair down, if you like) it is a big ask because she has to keep stopping to return to the room and bring the mood down. What we then learn about her life story, which is strangely told to a bottle and therefore not including us so we feel like voyeurs watching her lonely emotional descent, lingers with us so as to affect how we feel about the next song. But the ninety-minutes do work as a whole - Cooper carries a fairly threadbare plot on her sheer power.
We feel as though we’re witnessing something special - someone special. And I wonder if it’s Collette Cooper that’s the star here, not Janis Joplin.
The live music comes from TSP - a jaw-droppingly good band, working alongside her, pushing her to make each song better and better. She responds and by the end, there is a kind of frenzy in the space. Afterwards, even though I had a great time (if you can say that about watching an unfolding tragedy!) I did wonder what the aim was and whether it worked. I had more questions than answers - but, then, perhaps that is a good thing…
My suggestion, as there's plenty of time to catch it, is to go and experience the show for yourself!
Photography Robin Pope
Writer/Performer Collette Cooper
Producer Thelonious Punk Productions
Running Time 90 minutes (no interval)
Dates until Saturday 6th May 2023
Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturday Matinees at 3pm
Venue Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ
Tickets £15-£25 (including a complimentary Southern Comfort cocktail and
Post-Show music at certain shows)
Social Media @collettecooper, @thelonius_pp, @orltheatre