To call Lee Hall’s Cooking with Elvis bizarre would be to insult it by understatement. It is weird, wacky, wonderful, totally theatrical, as well as fabulously rude and at times strangely poignant. I expect many of this News Feed readers (all three of you) may have seen or at least heard of the original production in 1998 (in Cuba, it was the first British play produced by a living author since the Revolution, which is about as crazily outrageous as the play itself). The current revival at Newcastle’s Live Theatre is once again directed by the gifted Max Roberts as part of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations, and also again features the multi-talented actor (and singer!) Joe Caffrey reprising the role of Dad/Elvis.
As the production is unlikely to reach Portland, there’s little point in writing a full review (here’s what The Stage said). But just to keep things in the family, I will quote Times’ sports writer George Caulkin’s Twitter feed (yep, he’s my son): “Rude, hilarious, Elvisy, slathered in burger grease & served in a buttock bap.” And later: “Can’t get Elvis out of my head now! Quick deep-fried peanut butter sandwich and a shit-load of drugs before bed.”
My favorite (possibly slightly misremembered but close) quote? From the lips of Victoria Bewick (brilliant) as daughter Jill (I predict we will hear much, MUCH more of that young lady, on both sides of the Atlantic): “Yerv fuckt me mam. Yerv shagged me. Yerv wanked off me dad. Just as well Ah killed the tortoise.”
Will it ever make it to the West Coast? And would it work, with all that dialect? (Oh, to be young! I would give my eye teeth to have played either Jill or her Mam (excellent Tracy Whitwell). Who knows!
In any case, it was a fitting end to the (wo)manning of the Drammy Towers European Offices. My stomach still hurts from laughing, three days later.
And of course I realize that the European trip is of far less interest to readers (same three) than what is going on at home, where my fellow committee members are scurrying from production to production, as usual (and I do have ten plays lined up already, for my imminent return). But it’s undeniably good for us all to see what is happening in other parts of the world, in a sort of “what do they know of Portland who only Portland know?” kind of a way. It gives perspective, and depth, and breadth, I believe. So thank you for bearing with me on these travels.
And see you all soon, at the (Portland, Oregon) theatre!