Theatre Review - Tomorrow May Be My Last

Collette Cooper gives a sensational performance as the first queen of rock, Janis Joplin, whose life and career were cut tragically short when she died of a heroin overdose in October 1970, aged just twenty-seven.


Complete with a live band, Cooper offers impassioned renditions of Joplin’s best anthems and covers as well as introducing her own titular composition. The music is punctuated by Joplin’s musings, sometimes ranting, as she drowns herself and her pain in Southern Comfort in her dressing room.


Joplin was brought up in Port Arthur, Texas, and was bullied at school after opposing segregation. At college she was voted the “ugliest man”. It made her empathise with the underdog and she kicked back against intolerence whenever she confronted it. 


Like many outsiders, she found solace in music and audiences revelled in her devil-may-care attitude. Inspired by the blues of Bessie Smith, Joplin started off singing in coffee bars. At the height of her fame, she performed at the Albert Hall in London.


Joplin described her music as “a vibration of love” but also used it to rail against the status quo. She was arrested after a set in Tampa, for badmouthing and swearing at the police from the stage.


Fuelled by alcohol and drugs, Joplin often heard voices in her head. The backstage tirades about loneliness and pain become a little repetitive after a while, but reflect Joplin’s obsessions and the circular and destructive nature of addiction.


In the Old Red Lion’s tiny space upstairs, Cooper’s show is loud and in your face, but this is perfectly in keeping with Joplin’s own style. Cooper looks the part and gives it her all. She very quickly has the audience eating out of her hand, singing along and dancing on stage with her. 


To May 6

Originally published by Islington Tribune