Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead

You know those brilliant ideas you get after last orders, and then in the morning you’re like, what was I thinking? This show must have been one of them: “Hey guys, what if we took a cult horror classic, say Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2, and performed it with Elvis Presley’s song lyrics, wouldn’t that be awesome?”

Elvis may have left the building, but Rob Kemp might just be here to stay.

No matter what conspiracy theorists tell you, Elvis is dead. But just dead enough to be brought back to life as an evil possessed witch thingy. Personally, I think Rob Kemp looks more like Bruce Campbell (who plays Ash Williams in Evil Dead 2) than Elvis, but if took into consideration the rigor mortis that seemed to have stiffened his pelvis, he could well pass as the late King. While I enjoyed his demonic possession scenes more than his Elvis impersonation, together they fit like a chainsaw to a hand stump. Even though drenched in blood, shirt in shreds and wielding a chainsaw, the instant he belted out that recognisable velvety baritone, we were off to Las Vegas.

Like all hardcore fans, I take my horror movies very seriously, even the silly sequels like Evil Dead 2, so I was a bit worried about this strange marriage between a cult movie and a music icon. Luckily, it turned out to be a love affair. The dedication and affection Rob Kemp put into this production shows, especially when he lovingly re-enacted the goriest scenes from the film. His demonically possessed hand and hallucinatory dream sequences will go down in horror history. Everything was spot on just as long as he was acting.

You see, there were not just three characters on the stage: Rob Kemp, Bruce Campbell and the King, but four. Kemp was also very much the lion from The Wizard of Oz looking for his courage. His attempt to connect with the audience as himself before unleashing the forces of evil onstage backfired, as he came across nervous, uncertain and distracted. I would much rather be scared of him than for him. Therefore, my suggestion to the next shows, which I hope there will be many, is that he should attack the audience full on, blow the socks off them straight away and leave them wondering what the hell happened after the show. Nothing he said or did as himself brought any additional value to the show, just the opposite.

After the show, Kemp had a clever PR photo session with eager audience members posing with his Evil Dead chainsaw hand. Meanwhile, he slipped out that he may do 'Beatles-Juice' next. When receiving a roaring response, he coyly babbled: "I’m only joking, or should I do it? No, I couldn’t do it, or could I?" Elvis may have left the building, but Rob Kemp might just be here to stay.

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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★★★
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★★★★
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★★★
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★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The multi award-winning Edinburgh Fringe cult hit is back. Rev up the Delta and come on a trip to a cabin in the Tennessee backwoods via Graceland, to witness: cult classic horror movie Evil Dead 2 reinterpreted through the songs of Elvis Presley. Every now and then an idea strikes that seems extremely absurd and yet at the same time bizarrely fitting. This loving tribute concert to the sequel to the ultimate in gruelling terror... and the King of Rock‘n’Roll is such an idea. Brilliantly executed. “Twisted Genius” **** (Sunday Times) “Very funny” ***** (Beyond The Joke) “Genius” **** (Fest)