Rob Kemp returns to the Leicester comedy festival with the Elvis Dead: a retelling of the Evil Dead II using songs from the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.
Now, after trying to summarise the show in words pretty similar as above to friends, co-workers and people just passing me in the street, I’ve received more raised eyebrows than Elvis himself gave us. As such, it’s impossible to try and explain the genius of this hit cult show, which all but sold out its month long run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in just a few short words.
For those of you who say: “But, I’ve never seen the Evil De …” I shall cut you off mid-sentence and proclaim with certainty: “That is not an issue.” I have never seen the Evil Dead II (should probably get on that …), however I have seen the Elvis Dead twice. The first time was in Leicester, at a packed out venue called the Soundhouse. I sat front row, the room heavy with anticipation – this was the last show of 2017’s comedy festival and the second time Rob was to perform it; such was the demand that he bring back the show for those of us who had missed it the first time round.
I sat enthralled for the next hour as Rob threw himself into the roles of both Ash Williams and Elvis Presley. And “threw himself” is not a euphemism; Rob broke his finger during this show in a particularly explosive scene where Ash becomes possessed by the evil spirits that haunt the cabin in the woods.
Clips of the film are shown behind Rob and the story is punctuated with songs from Elvis’s extensive repertoire. Rob has changed the lyrics for comic effect for some songs, but others work as written – and are sung with an impressive range and pretty dead on Elvis impersonation.
The second time I saw the show was in a packed out venue (there’s a theme occurring here) called the Monkey Barrel during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This time I sat in the back, smug with the knowledge of what I was about to experience. However, on the second viewing, the joy came from experiencing other’s reactions to the show: the huge burst of laughter when a particularly apt song kicks in; the winces as Rob hurls himself around the stage; the pleasure in the gore created by one man.
For its third outing at the Leicester Comedy Festival, the show comes to the Y Theatre: the oldest Victorian theatre in Leicester. A higher platform (a chance to see Rob really battle with himself in the midst of possession) and a bigger space will not doubt continue to elevate this already fantastic show.
No need for suspicious minds (sorry); it’s now or never (sorry again), but make sure to see Rob Kemp’s Elvis Dead at the Y Theatre on Thursday 8th February 2018.