Elvis has left the wardrobe

  • 2006-09-27
  • By Joel Alas
TALLINN - It seems nowhere on earth was immune to Elvis Presley obsession. Even in Soviet times, Elvis' LPs slipped through Baltic borders. Thanks to the pirate station Radio Luxembourg, even Estonians were all shook up over the King.

And along with Elvis fever came that other inexplicable global phenomena 's Elvis impersonation.
This week, one of Tallinn's most eclectic theater troupes explores the concept of Elvis impersonation through their production of "Elvis Was in the Wardrobe."

The play, written by young Estonian playwright and lyricist Urmas Vadi, uses Elvis fascination as a metaphor for the identity crises suffered by everyday humans.
Although it is performed in Estonian, director Aare Toikka says English speaking audiences should still be able to appreciate the visual humor of the production.

The play focuses on three Elvis impersonators working at an Elvis museum who become so involved in mimicking their idol that they forget their original identities.
"All of these characters think they actually are Elvis, they are sure of it," says Toikka.
"It's a play about a crisis of identity. It's a surrealistic comedy that is about Elvis, yet is also about something else, about real humans."

Toikka says he remembers hearing Elvis music float across the airwaves while listening to illegal international radio stations at night.
"Elvis was everywhere, all over the world. In Estonia there is even an Elvis club. There was a group of people who made a big party on the 75th anniversary of his birthday. Estonia was just like everywhere else."
"In this play, Elvis is a symbol. It's about humans and their identity, that's more important. We took the Elvis myth, and played with it to also tell another story."

Although the words "wardrobe" and "closet" are often associated with "coming out," Toikka says the play is not gay-themed, but rather focuses on general concepts of identity.
The play does carry an adults-only warning, but Toikka doesn't want to spoil the surprise by explaining what indecencies the audience can expect.

"Elvis Was in the Wardrobe" is the kind of over-the-top comedy perfectly suited to the VAT Theater, the company presenting the production.
VAT is a small company that draws on the same troupe of three actors for all their productions, supplemented by a small number of visiting actors.

They are well known for their high-energy visually-driven shows, in particular the recent production of the Estonian epic tale "Kalevipoeg," which won rave reviews from both Estonian and English speaking audiences.
"There is singing in this play, but not all of it is Elvis music. We asked some Estonian musicians to write new music for the play, but there is also one big Elvis number at the end," Toikka says.
"Elvis Was in the Wardrobe"
VAT Theater, Estonian National Library Theater Hall, Tallinn
Sept. 28
Oct. 16, 18
Nov. 2, 16
Tickets: www.piletiveli.ee
Information: (372) 6450 959