Any woman, or man, who can endure acquiring in their lifetime not one but seven mother-in-laws is worthy of awe - if not more than a little concern. How typical of media meteor Janet Street-Porter, then, to go a step or six further than your average citizen. But then, Street-Porter - who relaxes by rambling through the countryside like it's an extreme sport - is no such thing. And Edinburgh - for one month only - is all the richer for it.
This self-penned biographical skit is camp, brash and irreverent. Street-Porter has a lot to say: none of it pleasant and all deliciously bitchy - not one of her four husbands or three live-in partners (each one served a five-year sentence) comes away unscathed. JSP puts the rage into "outrageous" with her confessions of a self-proclaimed megalomaniac. There's anger: anger at her mother ("the bitch"), her men ("all pathetically grateful") and TV execs ("male, middle-class, mediocre"). This is no-holds-barred dissing. And it's falling on appreciative ears. Her audience is practically baying for blood.
Street-Porter takes us back to her humble roots: a cramped property in a working-class area of Fulham. It wasn't so much the outdoor lav that made it the house of horror but her family. She's clearly never got over the disappointment at the kin she was saddled with by life - "a mad mother, a remote dad and a curvaceous, nice sister" whom JSP attempted to murder, twice, by shoving her down the stairs. Sibling rivalry diminished with the teen angst, however.
And in death JSP is able to make peace with her Welsh-speaking mother. Describing her as "a controlling, critical cunt", you can't help but suspect that these are all qualities Street-Porter actually rather admires.
Around her neck she sports one of those personalised, swirley-lettered gold necklaces - tacky and currently in vogue courtesy of Carrie Bradshaw. But, and this is where Street-Porter gets one up on the trendsetting Carrie, this one sports the four-letter word. (It was a gift from her friend Neil Tennant so, you know, it would be rude not to wear it.)
Refreshingly, JSP is equally harsh and revelatory about herself. Word has it that she is delighted the image on her publicity flyer, designed by Damien Hirst, makes her look like "a right ugly old bitch". And, never one to fret over being too in-your-face, JSP doesn't stint on details as she describes the relief of finally getting rid of her virginity - "a ball and chain" - at 15. Having shed the hymen, a fiancé or two later, happily she acquired the hyphen, marrying (temporarily) photographer Tim Street-Porter.
Dressed in walking boots and evening gown "the most impersonated woman in Britain" resembles a cross between Jackie Clune and Aaron Barschak. As mouthy and entertaining as the former, dressed like the latter, Janet Street-Porter is fortunately - considering the loathing from all those mother-in-laws - just as irrepressible.
To 24 August, not 11 & 18 (0131-226 2428; www.assemblyrooms.com)Reuse content