Sandra Bernhard, Leicester Square Theatre, London

The real test of stand-up stamina – to keep your heels on

One thing's for sure: the lady has staying power. Twenty-one years after she broke out with her one-woman off-Broadway show Without You I'm Nothing, Sandra Bernhard, right, is back with an updated reprise for a West End run. A 120-minute reprise. With no interval. Quite an ask. The question was: could she keep going for the full two hours while perched atop those heels?

Mouthy, obnoxious and, frankly, shoutingly loud is how British audiences remember Bernhard: as the rumoured lover of Madonna or from her stint as Nancy Bartlett in Roseanne. But that finished more than a decade ago. Mouthy she certainly remains, with well-directed bitches at celebrities from Joan Collins ("As I leant in to kiss her she looked as if she'd just smelled shit") to Simon Cowell ("I would have leapt off that stage and stabbed him in the neck" she reasons, had she been on any one of the high-trousered one's reality shows). But obnoxious she isn't.

This show is part stand-up (brought up to the minute with many a Twitter reference, not to mention the previous night's Britain's Got Talent and a stinging barb to a country that believes a fat Greek father and son dancing badly is entertainment – "The kid's already diabetic!"); part rock concert (with surprisingly good vocals and a wonderful Whitesnake moment); and part wistful reminiscences of a childhood in Flint, Michigan. And throughout Bernhard comes across as charismatic, endearing and as energetic as a person of half her 54 years.

And shoutingly loud? Well, the singing occasionally lapses into bellowing, but the quieter numbers, notably "Me and Mrs Jones" (complete with comedy face-pulling), are surprisingly tender. The presence of the songs themselves, however, is a little strange. The opening number of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" is apposite for someone whose acting chops (proved in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy) appear to have been ignored by Hollywood because of her quirky looks, but often the musical interludes seem more an opportunity to take a rest from telling her story than being integral to it.

Which brings us to that autobiographical story. It is hard not to warm to tales from Bernhard's childhood of gleefully watching ambulances sliding into each other on the ice-glazed roads of Flint, or her fantasies of a Wasp-ish life. But a clash of cultures becomes apparent as the evening wears on and she draws more and more on American references that, frankly, go right over the head of half the audience, that half being the Brits.

The Americans lapped up her comments about A-Rod holding up a Torah (Alex Rodriguez, the non-Jewish baseball star in question, recently started studying Kabbalah) and an exercise guru who might have been called Paula Trott, but then again might not.

Did she last the course? The last 30 minutes started to drag, with Bernhard taking frequent recourse to her notes, but 90 minutes of entertainment – at times laugh-out-loud funny – is about 45 minutes more than stand-ups usually deliver. And to have done it all in those heels is an impressive feat indeed. No pun intended.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments