Saturday, June 11, 2011




Artspace Theatre

Sat June 11 2011

Apparently there is a rule somewhere that in order to qualify as ‘cabaret’ there has to be at least two songs in a one hour show and there should be some laughing involved.

Lone Live The King a one woman show by Adelaide born actress director and producer Ansuya Nathan is an excellent piece of work; it has some songs and plenty of laughs, but is it cabaret?

From the Cabaret Festival guide it superficially looks a lot more comic. It is actually a theatre show and a very good one, but it’s probably not cabaret. Nathan has woven a funny, moving and clever show together based on the true story of her parent’s arrival in Adelaide on the same day Elvis Presley died. Meena the heavily pregnant Elvis fan, and her husband (a Beatle fan and ladies man) are Australia bound when they hear the news from a heartbroken Elvis fan steward over the planes tannoy. As they arrive in a new country, to start a new life Meena struggles with the fear of being a first time mother, in a land far away from home, in a world with no Elvis.

A skilled stage performer Ansuya Nathan jumps character with easy. From the heavily pregnant Meena, to her emotionally distant mother, to her swarthy player husband, a gesture or a facial expression is all it takes to tell us exactly who is on the stage at any point.

In an hour we are taken through the courtship of her parents, the arrival of this Indian doctor and his wife in 1970’s Elizabeth and a relationship falling apart. There are a lot of laughs but as a deft storyteller Nathan melts themes of fish out water alienation, loss of innocence, fear of impending motherhood, post natal depression, loneliness and love together with great poignancy.

Elvis as something to believe in, is a great metaphor for this story. When your parents, or your mother or your God let’s you down, there is always the King. Especially in the context that he was gone, making the idea of Elvis more eternal.

When she dons a simple white Vegas jumpsuit and quiff wig to bring to life the early comeback Elvis it is a great piece of conjuring. Likewise she later does the same thing with just a white glove and it’s like you are seeing Elvis bust some classic moves (just from the cheap seats).

There were some technical issues early in the set with a terrible buzzing coming from her headset microphone, making some of well written and engaging dialog difficult to hear. Eventually they switched it off all together, which was a relief to be rid of the buzz, but made it more of a struggle to hear if you were further back,

There was some talk afterwards with people saying things like “It wasn’t what I was expecting”, which was also true for this reviewer. I didn’t expect to see a warm, funny, moving and fantastically well executed piece of theatre by an extremely talented Adelaide performer. And that is what we were delivered. And for that I would say Thankyouverymuch!

Ian Bell

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