Elvis Hates Me!

Though the name suggests this is another gimmicky Fringe production concentrating more on standing out in the bulging programme than putting something worthy onstage, Philip Stokes’s new play about celebrity icons turns out to be a sharp, witty and indeed very worthy addition to the Fringe.

On the simple hospital ward that is the set, where a tanned and nameless nurse devours ‘Closer’ magazine, reside not one but two glitter-clad, wheelchair-bound Kings. Using pop-culture references from both sides of the Atlantic, three talented actors make their audience howl at the bizarre situation of two emasculated Elvi (decided to be preferable to ‘Elvises’ for the plural) arguing through their dribble which one is the real thing. When their nurse’s back is turned, they drop their drooling paralysis to quote the A Team as well as those iconic Elvis clichés.

Moments in this play are absolutely hilarious and no one can fail to laugh aloud, despite the fear that it’s tearing political correctness to shreds. What starts out funny, though, soon becomes a horribly disturbing comment upon celebrity culture. The audience’s mirth fizzles as we’re presented with the vacuity of the ‘Closer’ and ‘Heat’-reading world we live in. Suddenly the title makes sense and Stokes’s script seems a clever yet bitter comment on today’s absurd celebrity culture by way of the one true star.

Though by no means a new argument, Elvis Hates Me!’s presentation renders it fresh. The combination of pleasing physicality, sensitive scripting and uniformly powerful performances leaves you with the sobering conviction that the reality TV and MySpace stars that splash today’s media are less than court jesters in Elvis’s kingdom.

Reviews by Natasha Long

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The Blurb

The Zoo. 1st – 25th August. 16.00 (1h).

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