'The play’s all about sex, you see. That and the two other greatest pleasures in the world - food and Elvis. Lee Hall, one of the most sought-after writers of his generation, has certainly got his priorities right. As if this wasn't exciting enough, this man is also prone to extremes. His tragi-comic play, rewritten since its performance at Newcastle’s Live Theatre, is now, as he gleefully explains, 'even sexier, darker and weirder'.
In the five years he has been writing, Lee Hall has penned the Writers Guild Award-winning radio drama, Spoonface Steinberg, a six- part TV series for Dawn French, a play about W.H. Auden for the Donmar Warehouse and two Hollywood screenplays, one of which is a Peter Sellers biopic. His version of Brecht's Mr Puntila & His Man Matti was a sell-out success at the Traverse at last year's Fringe and he is currently writer in residence at the RSC.
Hall’s first full-length stage play, Cooking With Elvis, tells the story of what is increasingly fashionable these days - a dysfunctional family. Not many could match this one though: Dad, an Elvis impersonator,
Burger King: Cooking With Elvis
has been left paralysed following a car crash. Mam and daughter Jill, become increasingly obsessive in their ways of coping, Mam using sex as her crutch and Jill using food, although she finds solace in sex, too. The man dishing out these sexual favours is the local baker, Stuart. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, Stuart ends up servicing all the family members, including our quadriplegic Elvis.
Hall professes his debt to Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane in creating this dubious scenario but argues that his play is ‘sadder than farce, it's farce with an
emotional edge. It's Orton crossed with Mike Leigh.’ Tragi-comedy being a difficult balancing act at the best of times, Hall keeps the dirty gags coming thick and fast, but at the same time makes poignant observations about what he describes as, ’the absurdity of the ways people deal with disability'. Disability here can be read as physical and emotional and it's this emotional distortion of his characters projected in their bizarre behaviour that gives this play its surreal character. (Catherine Bromley) at For details. see Hit list. right
iHEATRE PEiEVIEW . Stephen Fry’s The Liar
Four play: Stephen Fry's The Liar
Everyone tells lies sometimes Tiny white lies, or Wicked, sprawling lies which take massive amounts of energy and qwck thinking to contain Adrian Healey, the central character in Stephen Fry's The liar is fond of the latter, more complicated untruths.
'During adolescence we all he to create identities for ourselves,' says Jonathan Dryden Taylor, director of Counterweight Production's new adaptation of Fry's romp of a debut novel. 'Healey takes this a step further by making up Situations which never even eXisted.'
The book traces the trials and tribulations of Healey’s days as an English public schoolboy right thr0ugh to his reflections as a respected, middle-aged academic. Among the obstacles he encounters along the way are money,
prostitution, espionage and cricket
Writer, comedian and actor Fry isn't overseeing the production, his only involvement was giVing his blessing to the adaptation As With many conversions from page to stage, the biggest problem for Dryden Taylor was deciding what to leave out ’If I had kept in everything that I had wanted,’ he admits, 'it would have lasted eighteen hours ’
Despite the fact that the book was a bestseller, and that the Fringe ranks as one of the most competitive market places for the arts, Dryden Taylor has few fears about holding the world premiere of the production in such an environment. fl've always found the Fringe to be a supportive and friendly place. At the end of the day we all sOCialise together and Will each other to do well.’ (Dawn Kofie) I For details, see Hit list. right
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Essential afternoon culture at this year’s Fringe. Cooking With Elvis See preView, left. Cooking With E/Vis (Fringe) live Theatre Company, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, 5—30 Aug (not 76. 24) 4 30pm, £ lO/EQ (E Q/E 8). Stephen Fry's The Liar See prewew, left Stephen Fry's The liar (Fringe) Counterweight Productions. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2 75 7, 6—30 Aug, 3 30pm, £7(£6)
Farces - Fantasia Followmg the Widely acclaimed Snow Show in the 1996 Fringe, Farces’ new production this from director Victor Cramer promises to be equally as breathtaking. See preView on followmg pages. Farces - Fantasia (Fringe) Farces. Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, 5—30 Aug, 4 45pm, [TO/£9 (£9/E8).
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? The National Youth Theatre present this stunning reworking of Horace McCoy’s novel before taking it on to Los Angeles early next year. See preview on followmg pages. They Shoot Horses Don 't They? (Fringe) NYT, George Square Theatre (Venue 37) 562 8740. 7—30 Aug (not 76) 4pm, £9.50 (£6.50).
numb b Camille Thoman's powerful peformance piece about the language of body and movement. See preview on following pages. numb b (Fringe) Komedia (<9 Southside (Venue 82) 667 2272, 6-29 Aug (not 76, 23) 4. 75pm, £7.50 (£5.50).
Mainstream Suspect Culture return after their 1997 hit Timeless with a show about to be taken on a national and European tour. Mainstream (Fringe) Suspect Culture. Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, 7-30 Aug, 4.50pm. £8.50/E9.50 (£8.50/£ 7.50).
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