Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd June 2015
Funnily enough I actually already knew that the only time Elvis Presley set foot in the UK was in 1960 when his plane had to briefly stop off at Prestwick airport. It is this brief moment which has inspired John Plews and Jennifer Selway's new play with music.
The piece centres around an Elvis Presley fan club, based in Kilmarnock, who find themselves overwhelmed with excitement when they learn that Elvis is set to land on their home turf. What starts out as a fluffy piece of fun soon evolved into a slightly ridiculous drama which could certainly give EastEnders a run for its money.
Did Elvis come face-to-face with fan club leader Jeannie? Did he change the course of her life for ever? Perhaps the show needs a little more time to settle and be refined, as the performance I saw felt a little long and drawn out. However, if condensed into a one-hour bundle of fun, perhaps There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis would go down a storm in Edinburgh. Presently it is sometimes on the verge of taking itself too seriously.
It's great to see the young cast of strong character actors having fun with their roles; however, it becomes a little awkward when the new-grads are required to play their characters twenty years later in the second act. There are a few too many twists and turns, with heated arguments going round and round in circles.
Musical numbers are dotted throughout, presented in performance context so they do not feel shoehorned (a refreshing change from the likes of Dreamboats and Petticoats). However, bigger staging of numbers would help improve the piece's overall flow and inject some more fun into proceedings.
Upstairs at the Gatehouse remains one of my favourite off-West End venues, their larger performance space is always taken advantage of (in this case Leah Sams's compact design neatly complements the piece, opening out in the second act). Known for staging glorious revivals, I cannot wait to see Upstairs at the Gatehouse’s production of Legally Blonde this Christmas!
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis runs at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 28th June 2015. Please visit www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com for info and tickets.