ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
The list of Theodore's achievements include highly unfashionable killing of wild animals, sometimes for their pelts, sometimes merely for the hunt. His achievements come over as boasting or very competitive, rather than creditable because they are so many, for instance the 45 books he wrote, or his extensive general knowledge from the tens of thousands of books he said he had read. Elvis or El-Vees as Teddy calls him is an altogether slower, Southern prospect with his good and generous nature.
The play shifts to the same actors, Ann (Libby King) working in a meat packing plant in South Dakota, with tv monitor close ups of the gory bits coming home to her imaginary friend Elvis Presley. She carries on a conversation with him voicing both parts. Elvis is encouraging her to try internet dating. Brenda (Kristen Sieh) emerges from the shower. She is a taxidermist from North Dakota. They travel in a RV to Mount Rushmore and visit a shop full of stuffed animals.
As Brenda encourages Ann to be more adventurous, I found myself thinking about these two quintessential American alter-egos. The frontiersman, the adventurer, the hardship suffered by pioneers, Teddy Roosevelt loses his wife and mother on the same day, his wife in childbirth. And then there is the rags to rhinestones story of Elvis, the kid from the backwoods who thrills the world bringing pleasure and entertainment.
The Roosevelt figure is often a figure of fun as he boxes herds of buffalo projected on a screen switching to a ballet but we have to admire his versatility. Elvis tells us about bringing karate to the world and the threats on his life. They debate ones birthright as Elvis stands up for the disadvantaged and underprivileged.
Brenda influences Ann to think about her life and to fulfill unfulfilled ambitions. I found a surprising depth from this devised piece about the great American journey. It's witty and cleverly directed using film and images to make this road trip seem a more peopled play with a breathtaking originality.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.