On paper the subject matter of this “new play with music” couldn’t get any better: set initially against the backdrop of Elvis’ one and only visit to the UK on Thursday March 3rd 1960, when he stepped onto the Tarmac of Prestwick Airport in Scotland, it tells a hugely relatable relationship tale of how teenage dreams can turn into adult nightmares. Add to this a smattering of classic tunes: “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, “The Wonder of You” and the barnstorming title track to name a few, and a (relatively) local setting and you’d think you’d have a sure fire hit on your hands: Jennifer Selway’s There’s a Guy Works Down The Chipshop Swears He’s Elvis is bursting with promise, but it’s not without it’s faults.
The surprise visit from ‘The King’ to Scottish shores has the Kilmarnock branch of the Elvis Presley Fan Club in a tizzy. It’s four members are firm friends but lies and deceit abound and 20 years on, the consequences of those lies, and the truth of that night in 1960, threaten to tear them apart forever.
There’s a fair potion of grit served up in Selway’s play amongst the teenage swooning and crooning but there’s an overwhelming feeling that it could have given so much more. Some of the fault lies in the dialogue which at times feels artificial and at other points has clearly has been used to pad the work out to the nearly one and three quarter hour running time: some judicious editing would have tightened the focus, made the piece harder hitting and left room for more of the thing that the cast truly excel at: singing. The glorious sound they make both individually and collectively is stunningly good – leaving you begging for more.
More a work in progress than the finished article, but the potential is all there for this to be a sure-fire hit.
Runs until 30 August 2015 This review was originally written for and published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/theres-a-guy-works-down-the-chip-shop-swears-hes-elvis-momentum-playhouse-st-stephens-edinburgh/