In the boldest offering of the Royal Court's new season, the Sloane Square stage is transformed into open American roads as multi-award-winning fringe favourite theatre company the TEAM bring some Brooklyn cool to London.
After the sellout success of 2013's musical Mission Drift (The Shed at the National Theatre), they return with another stateside road trip adventure. Get ready for a trippy road trip from the experimental theatre makers once described as "Gertrude Stein meets MTV".
As the portmanteau title suggests, RooseElvis follows the spirits of Elvis Presley and Theodore Roosevelt through a surreal mash up of pop-culture, mythology and the American dream, via Mount Rushmore and motel rooms all the way to Graceland. Sound strange? It gets weirder…
First Teddy (Kristen Sieh) and Elvis (Libby King) are comically competing to have the best biographical facts. Then we meet the reality from which these long-dead icons spring: meek meat factory worker Anne (also played by Libby King) who embarks on an increasingly strained camping trip with a woman she met online, free-spirited taxidermist Brenda (Sieh).
In an embodiment of Anne's psyche, the actors shift back and forth from Anne and Brenda to Teddy and Elvis. It’s like a series of Russian dolls of delusion, each coming from the mind of the previous incarnation. The tensions between Elvis and Teddy are by far the most rewarding parts of the play, playing out American history and culture with zest, zaniness and plenty of laugh-out-loud comedy.
As far as an over-arching message or point goes, we're still a bit baffled: gender, identity, courage and mental health all compete in a fast-paced whirlwind of a play. The result is bonkers, utterly experimental, but all the more enjoyable for its off-the-wall confidence. And astoundingly adroit performances from both actors make Roosevelvis a delight to watch — even when you have no idea what's going on.
Devised by the TEAM, RoosevElvis was created as a collaboration. Instead of the more traditional model of a script, a producer and a director, this theatre company work together to come up with new material through workshops, which is then brought to the stage through a variety of media. With moving sets and projections across different screens, the staging is dynamic and tongue in cheek, always looking to expose the layers of conceit.
Director Rachel Chavkin's production keeps the fluid and collaborative feel of devised at the heart, making the comedy and tension feel spontaneous. This is theatre at its strangest: you might not know what to make of the play as a whole, but the experience is thrilling.
|What||REVIEW: RoosevElvis, Royal Court Theatre|
|Where||Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
21 Oct 15 – 14 Nov 15, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
|Price||£12 - £25|
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Court Theatre|