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.
Meena arrives, pregnant, is Oz in the day Elvis dies with Francis, 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. (Paul Levy - Fringereview.com 12/08/10)
My expectations of this show were very mixed: female Elvis impersonator meets Bollywood take on immigration angst? No worries mate!
No worries indeed. The King and his music permeate the whole show, drawing the audience through the gamut of love, loss and survival experienced by a young Asian couple coming to South Australia in the seventies.
Nathan adeptly and wittily re-writes bits of her own family history to make a joyous fictional fantasy which she performs to near perfection. She handles the roles of narrator, father, mother, granny and Elvis impersonator with skill and variety. Serious issues are addressed with respect and a light hand to make a rounded show. The underpinning of the action with the Elvis soundtrack is seamless and always relevant
This is all a solo show should be. Go see it and enjoy. (The Public Reviews 07/08/10)
THE STAGE - MUST SEE! NOMINATED BEST SOLO PERFORMER 2010 Ansuya Nathan has crafted a love-letter to her mother in this funny, emotional and utterly heartfelt one-woman show. No matter that a few facts are massaged together to increase dramatic impact, the story of Merlin and Francis Nathan's arrival in Adelaide from Kerala on the day Elvis Presley died contains truths about human relationships which are universal.
From her parents' inauspicious first date - he was a Beatles fan, she an Elvis fan - to their arrival on Australian soil when she was heavily pregnant, it is played out with a deft, lightness of touch. The date itself is a hilarious duel of each performer's songs, but it is an assured physical performance too as director Guy Masterson has Nathan flitting from one character to the next without need to pause for clarity.
Once in Australia, however, darkness begins to cloak the story as Francis, with pre-eclampsia, withdraws into her pregnancy. Merlin also retreats into his work as a doctor. And suddenly, in a subtle step change of pace, issues of modern and traditional culture and taboo begin to work their way into the piece. If the end is uplifting, the journey there is dark but filled with compassion and understanding. A stunning piece of work from all concerned. (Thom Dibdin - The Stage - 13/08/10)
Long Live the King is a kind of pre-autobiographical solo play, since it takes place in the latter months of the pregnancy of Ansuya Nathan's mother, Mina.
This took place in 1977, commencing with the day that the Nathan family landed from Singapore in their new home town of Adelaide. This was also the fateful day when Mina's hero Elvis Presley died and the tale advances to the accompaniment of his songs, several expertly reproduced by the writer/performer.
What sounds like a thin tale is given real heart, thanks to strong literary ability and performing skills.
Meena and her doctor husband Francis undergo some sticky episodes, not helped by the presence of her mother Connie, enough to drive any son-in-law to distraction, and Robert from the flat above.
They come through in the end with a bouncing, sometimes screaming baby girl, who grew up to be an actress.
Ansuya Nathan also makes the most of her Elvis inheritance, singing like the King, whether dressed in the legendary tight, white jumpsuit or black sari.
Best of all is when she accompanies herself on white glove, which has to be seen to be believed, so effectively does it evoke the shade of the singer with the famous pelvic thrusts. (Philip Fisher - British Theatre Guide 12/08/10)