Aye, Elvis

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

five stars

Uh-huh huh, uh-huh huh, uh-huh huh – Aye Elvis is back in the building!

Also back are the original cast from February 2018 – namely Joyce Falconer, David McGowan and Karen Ramsay – but since Ken Alexander deftly directed that first Play, Pie and a Pint outing, Morna Young’s comedy of brave hopes and unlikely dreams has been on the Edinburgh Fringe and that successful run has allowed all three performers to delve deeper into what is really happening in these characters’ lives.

The result is now an irresistible mix of all-out hilarity and lurking heartache as we follow Joan (Joyce Falconer) in her bid to be an Elvis ‘tribute artist’ with a twist – forbye she’s a woman, Joan’s rendering of the King’s hit songs are in the Doric, ken.

Falconer, her hair quiffed up, and in a Vegas-era Elvis costume – yes, it’s a tight white rhine-stone studded jumpsuit, complete with cape – brings a tremendous, gravelly- gruff swagger to the karaoke numbers that DJ, Fat Bob (David McGowan) plays at the local club.

Joan’s much-needed, Elvis-shaped bubble of escapism is, however, a valiant coping mechanism – a flamboyant rebuttal of the grey reality of her poorly-paid day job in a shop alongside sole caring for an elderly mother in a wheelchair. Their shared impoverishment is more than financial.

When Joan’s mother (kept feisty, if querulous, by Karen Ramsay) says “folk like us don’t get to live their lives – we just survive” the sheer emptiness of their existence is a bitter punchline that tinges Joan’s fantasies with a sad, yearning truth.

Mind you, Fat Bob (a chirpy, yet self-effacing McGowan) is going through something of a long, dark night of the soul himself, and the plot device that sees him and the equally lonely Joan looking for romance on an online Elvis forum adds another astutely everyday scenario to Young’s gem of a play.

Uh-huh huh – catch it if you can, it’s a delight.