Lee Martin for Gag Reflex in Association with Geoff Rowe
Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead
Newcastle Northern Stage
Friday 12th October 2018
The Elvis Dead was a hit at Edinburgh Fringe back in 2017 and Rob Kemp has picked up with chainsaw and put the homage to Evil Dead 2 back on the road.
Of course, the film Evil Dead 2 was in itself a parody sequel by the original director Sam Raimi that did not take itself seriously and hence makes it ripe for this comedy treatment.
The show is ingenious. Excepts of the film appear on the screen behind Rob Kemp as he sings Elvis classics with the lyrics modified to fit in with the action. So Suspicious Minds becomes Wrapped Up In Vines and Jailhouse Rock turns in to Standing In A State Of Shock. The operatic and pompous nature of the Elvis classics fits in with the over the top acting in the movie. The show is tight as the lines frequently match the actual action taking place – Rob sings about getting strangled through a window at the same time as the film shows that part of the scene.
The atmosphere inside the packed Stage 3 was a cross between a rock gig and a screening of the Rocky Horror Show with spontaneous clapping in time with the songs, cheering and calling out of the funnier lines.
As the film goes on Rob moves from Elvis to becoming more like the lead character from Evil Dead 2 Ash Williams whilst singing the songs in the style of Presley. Rob adds to his make up the cuts and oil as the film character goes through his trails and tribulations. The hand is “cut off” and, yes, eventually replaced with a chainsaw.
As the film reaches its conclusion Presley/Williams moves around the crowd accepting the leis from the audience – though I don’t think he expected a “fight” with one member of the audience who decided to go one step further and pull out his walking stick in response to the chainsaw. Rob improvised accordingly, and it added to the night’s unique entertainment.
A show that is perfect for “fans of Evil Dead 2” may appear to be for a niche market but it works well with fans of the horror genre who don’t take their gore too seriously. Rob has created a piece of physical theatre that leaves the stage in a real mess afterwards with fake blood and broken plates everywhere. Like a good gig, the audience add to the atmosphere of the circus and the end result is a really entertaining hour.
ps. It is not for fans of Presley who are a bit squeamish about horror films!
Review by Stephen Oliver
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