Skip to main content

Thank You Very Much


Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Manchester
Five stars

When a hip-swivelling, pelvis-thrusting, heart-breaking Elvis Presley entered the building, the recording studio and the conscience of every teenage rebel in the world to become the bone fide king of rock and roll, its seismic effect spanned several generations. As choreographer, director and performer Claire Cunningham shows in her astonishing new creation, it’s easy to be all shook up by Elvis’ youthful pre-Vegas image on TV, even when you might be trapped in your own sense of quietly rebellious self.

This becomes the starting point for the ninety poignantly transcendent minutes of Cunningham’s co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and Manchester International Festival, where it premieres this week prior to autumn dates in Glasgow. Throughout, Cunningham and her three cohorts explore what it means to take a leap, strike a pose and learn to love the spotlight for who they are, even as the image they project might be that of someone very different.

Such everyday life lessons are gleaned from a bunch of Elvis tribute acts who help make for a kind of auto-biographical cabaret that brings together four disabled artists to strut their stuff in a way that leaves them both exposed and empowered. As Cunningham, Daniel Daw, Tanja Erhart and Vicky Malin take it in turns to step into the harsh glare of a social club function room, there are moments they could be any showbiz wannabes going through their paces. Set against sound designer Matthias Herrmann’s remarkable deconstructed funereal electronic reimaginings of Elvis originals, it becomes a transformative meditation on how standing out from the crowd isn’t always easy.

In a show that sees the cast embrace their imperfections just as their jump-suited mentors might add their own personal tics to their performance, let’s hear it too for the tribute acts themselves. The disembodied recorded voices of Leigh, Des, Darren, Janny and Colbert are heard giving encouragement to their new charges with the philosophical zeal of Olympic trainers. When Cunningham’s final number unites everyone to make the performance possible, she is totally herself in a life-affirming display of community spirit that would make Elvis quiver with pride.

The Herald, July 18th 2019

ends




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Carla Lane – The Liver Birds, Mersey Beat and Counter Cultural Performance Poetry

Last week's sad passing of TV sit-com writer Carla Lane aged 87 marks another nail in the coffin of what many regard as a golden era of TV comedy. It was an era rooted in overly-bright living room sets where everyday plays for today were acted out in front of a live audience in a way that happens differently today. If Lane had been starting out now, chances are that the middlebrow melancholy of Butterflies, in which over four series between 1978 and 1983, Wendy Craig's suburban housewife Ria flirted with the idea of committing adultery with successful businessman Leonard, would have been filmed without a laughter track and billed as a dramady. Lane's finest half-hour highlighted a confused, quietly desperate and utterly British response to the new freedoms afforded women over the previous decade as they trickled down the class system in the most genteel of ways. This may have been drawn from Lane's own not-quite free-spirited quest for adventure as she moved through h