Diane Chorley: Duchess Of Canvey

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 15 Aug 2015

A svelte stockinged leg appears in the spotlight. The band is playing, the lights are dimmed and the name "Diane" is immortalised in lights above them. A strong husky voice starts to sing, stepping out to reveal that it belongs to a sequin-clad diva. Diane Chorley has arrived to sing out with chutzpah and regale us with stories of 80s Essex celebrity decadence, alongside with her own sad fall from grace.

Where Ian Dury meets Liza Minnellli we find Chorley. With a torch song chanteuse's tortured soul, a kind word, and sharp wit, Chorley guides us through an evening of memories of when she ruled the roost in Essex's Canvey Island as owner of top celebrity hangout club The Flick. A constant on stage is Chorley's minder-cum-friend, Ron, providing the occassional comic punchlines and a stern but friendly face. There's a familiar disregard for house band The Buffet, introducing them each with outrageous claims that tickle the audience and dare the band to corpse from their prescription deadpan gazes. 

Between songs Chorley namedrops her former clientele and friends and relays her own story. She is the tough old bird dolled up with an armour of sequins and hairspray and a talent to sing.

Chorley is an engaging hostess, but it is the songs and their performance that bring out the real star. That flat Essex twang sings loudly of relationship dances and pedestrian bad behaviour from the formerly rich and famous, and is deliciously knowing and inclusiveness as she slinks into the audience singing 'Some Of Us Belong To The Night'. The final song is to her ever-present Ron, and a real embracing of the Ian Dury influence, combining the mundane and the cheeky with the thoughtful. A great crescendo to a delightful evening.