REVIEW – Are You Lonesome Tonight


By Isabella Fraser

Performer Ellie Stamp’s show is an interactive piece of performance art, explains the blurb for the show on ticketing websites. What this actually means in the flesh is something so much more. Dealing with the issues of mental health, thought disorder and a floating belief that Stamp could be the secret love child of Elvis Presley, this quirky and cleverly written multi-media show takes its audience on an explorative journey into the idea of ‘self’ and awareness.

At the very beginning the audience is asked to work out their ‘number’ by calculating their date of birth in a particular way. Throughout the performance there is an explanation of what each number means (this reviewer shares the same number as the performer – apparently we move to the beat of our own drum). This stems from Presley’s love of numerology. Other connections to Presley are interspersed throughout the show, including a toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich, songs, images and facts about the man himself.

The devising of the show – designed and created by Stamp with neuroscientists from Cambridge University and King’s College London, Paul Fletcher and Kate Merritt respectively – has produced an eclectic and engaging production. Stamp herself comes across as slightly abrasive, but her forthright manner allows an explanation of personal information which otherwise may be too emotional to discuss. By embracing spoken word, singing, live music, video clips and audience interaction, Stamp has let the audience personalize the experience and challenge our preconceptions about who we are – or who we think we are. If you are a fan of Elvis, then there is more than enough time devoted to him to keep you happy – and you can join in the song at the end!

Are You Lonesome Tonight runs 11, 13, 15, 17-18, 20, 22 August in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at Summerhall at 15.30. Running time is 1 hour.

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