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 The Theatreguide.London Review

My Trip Down The Pink Carpet
Apollo Theatre     February 2011

This very enjoyable solo show offers ninety minutes of laughs, punctuated by moments that are touching and, for many in the audience, deeply moving.

Leslie Jordan is a short, white-haired, very camp American character actor best known as Karen's bitchy arch-enemy on the sitcom Will & Grace (a role, he delights in telling us, originally written for Joan Collins).

With bouncy energy belying his admitted fifty-five years, Jordan takes us through his modest career, made up largely of secondary roles in failed TV shows and Japanese commercials.

There is plenty of gossip, with wicked tales of George Clooney, Faye Dunaway, Boy George and others delivered with exactly the right spirit of dirty dishing.

But there is another story here as well, of a boy growing up in the Baptist deep South in the 1960s, knowing two things without doubt, that he was the only homosexual in the world and that he was going to hell.

Jordan's slow and painful escape from what he calls his internalised homophobia and self-hatred is a powerful narrative, but the fact that he tells it with the humour and wisdom of the survivor keeps it from dragging the evening down or spoiling the fun.

Instead, the two strands of his tale bounce off each other nicely, creating a warm and positive whole.

So jokes about his limits as an actor - he really can't do butch - sit comfortably alongside the account of his first life-changing visit to a gay bar, and laughing about his years of drinking and pill-popping leads without grinding of gears to the discovery that in rehab a group of straight men would accept him without judgement because they shared things much more important than their sexuality.

As directed by David Galligan, Jordan's performance is polished and sharp, with even the ad libs carefully rehearsed and expertly timed.

This show is based on Jordan's book of memoirs and grew out of anecdotes prepared for his book tour, and while you might occasionally get the sense that it's still an extended plug for the book (on sale in the lobby), it is certainly one of the most entertaining commercials you're likely to encounter.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - My Trip Down The Pink Carpet - Apollo Theatre 2011
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