Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead
- Brian Donaldson
- 23 August 2017
This article is from 2017.
A good idea makes it big onstage as Elvis Presley meets a ghoulish movie classic
Culty gems have done well with the Edinburgh Comedy Award panel prize. Adrienne Truscott, Funz and Gamez, and the all-star reading of the Chilcot report have scooped that particular gong in recent time. If that's the main criterion for the award again, then Rob Kemp is surely a dead cert (emphasis on 'dead' of course). Not only did it seem like a good idea at the time, but the act of remoulding classic Elvis Presley songs to fit with the plot of 1987's comic-horror classic Evil Dead 2 has turned out to work like a dream on a blood-soaked stage.
It helps that in certain lights, northern Englishman Kemp bears a decent resemblance to both the King of Rock 'n' Roll (in his late 1960s thin phase) and Bruce Campbell, the star of Sam Raimi's knockabout gorefest. The gist of the movie can be followed closely enough even by those unfamiliar with that franchise while almost every tune is instantly recognisable as the audience anticipates exactly where the lyrics will go: 'Suspicious Minds' becomes 'Wrapped Up in Vines', and 'I'm All Shook Up' is now 'I've Been Possessed'. His voice might be beginning to crack, but Kemp powers through and is certainly unhindered when it comes to launching himself around a small stage, slicing his hand off with a chainsaw and blasting the heads of unseen ghouls off with a sawn-off shotgun.
A truly rollicking affair, then, The Elvis Dead has proved an instant Fringe cult classic all of its own, but as Kemp acknowledges at the end, he might be convinced to extend the music-horror film mash-up. Beatles-Juiced maybe? How about The Lost Beach Boys? Whether he goes through with this plan or not, we can all have fun dreaming up our own splicings.
Heroes @ Monkey Barrel, until 27 Aug (not 23), midnight, £5 or Pay What You Want.