Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Take a seat at BLINK’s table as the cast spill the tea on their food stories. Watch as they deep-dive into the events at the end of the life of Elvis, the King of Rock’n’Roll, with their signature sensory and often bizarre tangents… Good Food Gospel anyone? Elvis Died of Burgers has a non-linear narrative. It uses semi-improvised dance, theatre and spoken word to create an exciting, edge-of-your-seat experience for audience and cast alike.
BLINK Dance Theatre is a neurodiverse company that creates and performs together, and all their performances of Elvis Died of Burgers are relaxed performances. Really relaxed. Never have I attended a show where a theatre company has worked so hard to be so accessible and inclusive. Audience members are encouraged to make noise, move or even exit the space if needed. Snacks are encouraged. Ear defenders are available. A BSL interpreter signs the entire show. Even the lyrics to the show’s closing song are printed in a handout so that those who want to sing along can do so. This impressive amount of effort and forethought make it absolutely clear that when BLINK Dance Theatre does a show, everyone is welcome.
Thus it’s in keeping with the company’s ethos that the production focuses on a universal topic: food. Devised by the company’s four performers and co-directors: Rachel Gildea, Vicki Hawkins, Francis Majekodunmi and Delson Weekes, Elvis Died of Burgers takes a non-linear personal look at one of life’s greatest and most consistent pleasures and requirements.
Early on Majekodunmi talks of his love of hamburgers and later returns as a dancing hamburger that’s fabulous in every way. After the cast discusses Elvis’s love of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and how overconsumption can lead to gastric distress (and more: see the title), Weekes rocks out in a terrific Elvis costume and brings down the house with his bubbly, infectious energy. Hawkins delivers a beautiful monologue about the time she made a cake for her terminally ill mother that is so moving that it brought tears to this reviewer’s eyes. Those three are bolstered by Gildea, who balances it all with a calm and lovely stage presence; BSL Greg Colquhoun, who communicates the proceedings with zestful hands and a fun demeanor; and Connie Chinn, the ever-smiling artistic support worker who keeps things flowing. Offstage, special mention must be given to designer Hazel McIntosh for her superb costumes, especially the dancing hamburger. Lettuce never looked so enticing.
Given the name and mission of this company, the one thing I wanted more of in this show was dance, and mainly because of the joy that the dances brought out from the performers and the audience alike. But that’s a minor criticism of this heartwarming show that makes such great efforts to welcome all to the table. Bon Appétit, indeed.