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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Long Live the King

Guy Masterson/TTI and The Fixed & the Free

Genre: Drama

Venue: Assembly at George Street


Low Down

It’s 1977, and the Nathan family have landed in their new home, Adelaide. Heavily pregnant, Mina’s life unfolds in a wonderfully realised one woman story performance by Ansuya Nathan, in the safe directorial hands of Guy Masterson


Guy Masterson directs Ansuya Nathan, who also wrote this delightful, cleverly constructed one-woman play that weaves Elvis into the micro-drama of her own family’s story.
The stage is set, a lit Elvis sign and an Elvis suit fit for a woman. Mina arrives, pregnant, is Oz in the day Elvis dies with Merlin, her husband, ready to take up jobs in the new frontier. 
The Death of the King is the backdrop for a piece which becomes increasingly affecting as the story progresses, and it is Elvis’s music which sets the mood during different scenes of the story recounted so ably by performer Ansuya Nathan.
This is a play about withdrawing into pregnancy and how the "normal" things in life can take us over, cut us off from those we love, and how, as with Elvis himself, our story is partly a walk we have to make alone. The play takes us into pain and joy with skill both in the writing and the theatrical realisation.
The performance began a little hesitantly but soon picked up the obvious fluency that Ansuya Nathan has as a performer. This is story theatre, but it is no way static; it is a production which moves, and allows the performer to create the world around her, the family characters (her mother was played to observed perfection), and she weaves Elvis in to the delight of the audience. There’s no disrespect to Graceland here – this is a decent impersonation and the chosen songs enhance the mood of the piece.
Lots of lonesome tonight bed and no work. She feels caught in a trap. This is  her experience of pregnancy in a strange country. The play ranges across the emotions. At times poignant, at times sharply funny, there are poetic moments , there’s intense drama. Sometimes the comedy moments are lost in the seriousness of the story and this balance could be looked at further, both in the writing and the direction.
During a few touching moments, Elvis is there in the room and the parallels converge,  Masterson’s direction allows the performer to reach us very directly and there’s nothing fussy about it.
The closing minutes are quite simply beautiful and important, poetic and will remain, always on my mind. You have to see it. Head way down to the Assembly as soon as you can.