Directed by Sue Perkins and produced by Dee Dee Ingram, Luigi Jannuzzi’s All The King’s Women is a production with 22 characters and only one subject; Elvis Presley. The play tells nine different stories of women who came into direct or indirect contact with The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll, and the way in which they were all overwhelmed by the man, his music, and his eccentricities. Most of the scenes are based on actual events with the stories ranging from 1946, all the way up to present day. Each story depicts different aspects of The King; his gyrating hips, his sultry voice, his increasingly bizarre behaviour, and even his legendary love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. All are on display, as seen through the eyes of the many women who loved him.
Each scene is preceded by a brief news report delivered by Ed Hepburn, and occasionally by Stephen Flindall. The news report always begins with political updates, and does no more than provide historical context before it is prematurely ended by a new story of an encounter with Elvis. The King’s women clearly show that no news matters other than that which concerns Mr. Elvis Presley. This is best displayed in the scene entitled “When Nixon Met Elvis” in which three White House employees (played to perfection by Mary Jane Walzak, Ruth Korchuk, and Catharine Sullivan) animatedly and frantically call each other with news of Elvis and his movements within the White House, as he attempts to become a “Federal agent at large.” Sullivan states, “this is the greatest day of Nixon’s career,” which may not quite be the case, but it’s close.
The loose narrative structure allows each actor at least one chance to delight as almost all play more than one character. Robin Rundle Drake is sublime as Eve, a housewife who is accosted by Elvis in a supermarket at 3am for her bananas and peanut butter. The trio of Walzak, Korchuk, and Sullivan return with similarly wonderful results as three women employed by Andy Warhol attempting to explain art to The King. Ashley Grech shines as Sherrie, a teenage fan who gets revenge on her newly ex-boyfriend by getting to play tambourine with Elvis. Elvis allows each of these women to have something special, whether it is the jealousy of their peers, or a story to tell for the rest of their lives.
This is a show not only for fanatic or even casual fans of The King. There is something universal about being transfixed by a musician. This play tells of how one was able to transfix an entire nation for over two decades of his life, and continues to do so today. There remains an overabundance of Elvis impersonators and merchandise, and an insatiable cultural appetite for everything Elvis. This play is no exception, and with the quality job done by all involved there should be an insatiable appetite for it as well.
All the Kings Women is playing at the Palace Theatre from October 29th to November 8th. For ticket information, check here.