Cooking with Elvis

Written by Lee Hall, Directed by Gareth Tudor Price
Liverpool Playhouse, 14th-19th November 2005

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This highly entertaining dark comedy had the Playhouse audience laughing out loud throughout most of its duration.

Written by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and directed by Gareth Tudor Price, this Hull Truck Theatre presentation contains very earthy language and a lot of sexual references, but above all is very true to life. Perhaps that is why the onlookers enjoyed it so much.

The story revolves around an Elvis Presley impersonator (Sean Oliver), who is confined to a wheelchair after being involved in a car crash, and who resembles "a cabbage" as his wife (Jackie Lye) kindly describes him.

Deprived of sexual satisfaction and comfort, she brings home boyfriend Stuart (Chris Connel) - an imbecilic Geordie - who disrupts the household with his sexual shenanigans.

It reaches such a state that he has sex with his girlfriend's obese fourteen-year-old daughter Jill (Natalie Blades) - who is obsessed with cooking - and wanks-off her dad under his blanket while in his wheelchair, after he develops an erection.

It sounds pretty grim stuff but is done in such a manner that it resembles an absurd farce.

Although Dad springs out of his chair on a number of occasions to belt out Elvis songs and make constant references to burger joints and how sorrowful the world is. This brings a highly surreal feel to the play, with the other three characters singing in harmony behind him several times. The singing of Oliver was very impressive, although I am far from being an Elvis admirer.

The star turn was Connel. He played a buffoon with superb timing of movement and speech. The audience loved him! And I loved the play!

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