Leslie Jordan My Trip Down The Pink Carpet
Review by Peter Brown
3 Feb 2011
This is a one-man show starring American actor and author, Leslie Jordan, and is based on his book of the same title. Those of you who are unfamiliar with Leslie Jordan perhaps need to be pointed in the direction of TV series 'Will and Grace' in which the diminutive actor (all 4 feet 11 inches of him) frequently appeared as one of the characters: Beverley Leslie. Mr Jordan won an Emmy for that characterization and has appeared in many other film and TV roles as well as other one-man shows.
'My Trip Down The Pink Carpet' is basically a series of reminiscences from Mr Jordan's life and work – a kind of scenic autobiography if you will. I remember seeing a similar kind of show starring Joan Rivers a few years ago which was inspirational as well as hugely enjoyable. Coincidentally, Ms Rivers' show began with her appearing at an awards ceremony, which also sets the scene for the start of this show. But 'My Trip Down The Pink Carpet' doesn't prove to be as inspirational or as funny even if Mr Jordan has had to cope with considerable struggles, especially in terms of his sexuality, which of course arouses our empathy.
From the original setting of the awards ceremony, Mr Jordan takes us back to his childhood in Tennessee, and his high school days where he envied cheerleaders and fancied the president of the bible club. It's in this phase of his life where he starts writing his diary and he returns to this activity frequently during the show. Interspersed with stories from his childhood and, later on, his work in the entertainment business, we are also introduced to some of his favourite music, particularly disco numbers which have become gay anthems.
I'm grateful to my colleague for pointing out (since it was outside my line of sight) that, at one stage in the proceedings, a man sitting a couple of rows in front of us in the stalls was, rather rudely, reading a newspaper. I don't know if this was a comment on the performance or simply an urgent and desperate need for a news fix, but it can't have been encouraging for the performer. Still, I can sympathize with the reader to some extent because this is not a show that can boast non-stop hilarity and mirth. There are occasions when Mr Jordan comes up with a gem or two, and he has a knack of impersonation which aids the exposition and proves enjoyable. But even with my relatively catholic taste in humour, I never found myself laughing out loud – and that often happens in all kinds of shows including comedy and drama. Looking around the stalls from time-to-time, the first night audience also seemed somewhat subdued, and there was certainly no-one rolling in the aisles in uncontrollable fits of hysterics. There are times when things liven-up, especially when Mr Jordan is delivering his version of gay men dancing in clubs or talking about his work with Boy George. But I found a good deal of the evening rather bland and mundane, even if Mr Jordan himself is charming, warm-hearted and endearingly bubbly.
The venue seems an odd choice for a one-man show with an autobiographical format. A smaller theatre might have provided a more intimate and engaging environment. But I also think the material simply isn't strong or unique enough and has a sentimental tinge that I began to find a little irritating after a while. For example, Mr Jordan uses his age as a kind of long-term service medal, yet he's actually only 55 – hardly a Methuselah, or even a Joan Rivers! That said, there are some poignant moments, for example when he is talking about 'drowning in the lies of the Baptist church' and his first meeting at his therapy group. Not enough, though, to win me over, but I suspect avid fans may well have opposing views.
"A brilliant feelgood monologue about self-acceptance performed with rocket-powered impish panache."
Bruce Dessau for The Evening Standard
"Jordan is often wonderfully funny."
Charles Spencer for The Daily Telegraph
"Entertaining show ."
Paul Vale for The Stage
External links to full reviews from popular press
Daily Telegraph -