A comedy in three acts written & directed by Paul Pacifico
23rd April 2021
First performed in Berlin early 2000s with Nicholas Young as ‘Elvis’, Martin O’Shea as ‘Colonel’ and Chad as ‘Pizza Boy’. Later revived with Jason Daly as ‘Colonel’ and Philipp Pressmann as ‘Pizza Boy.’
Feel free to use this play as you see fit. If a small profit is generated, I would appreciate a donation to a cancer charity.
This version is set in Berlin. See notes at the end of the play for any references to specific locations or vocabulary.
Legal notice: should you wish to perform the play, you should check for copyright issues or music publishing rights. Original music may be used instead.
And now … lights down … Richard Strauss ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra.’
Takin’ Care of Business
Cast : Elvis
Berlin : The Present.
One room which is a microcosm of Graceland. In one corner hang multicoloured drapes. A table with some plants. The other corner contains three TV sets. Two comfy chairs.
Darkness. Intro of Strauss ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra.’
Two corner lights (red and blue) switch on.
Elvis enters after a minute or so. Lights up.
Elvis switches on first one, then the other TV’s. He looks at them, moving his head from side to side at regular intervals. He is dressed in 70’s costume and periodically alters his garb, without shame or any self-consciousness. He moves around the room. Suddenly he leaps into posture, performing a few karate kicks and muttering to himself, “Master tiger”. Then he does some ‘moves’ or set pieces. He gives a little chuckle to himself and mumbles something. He moves to the TV’s and changes the stations, eventually ending up with the same programmes as beginning, but on different sets. He watches intensely, moving head from side to side. He then moves around the room, performing two set pieces, one facing left, other to the right.
Elv: Well, that’s my work out finished. As the man said, if ya can’t fix it, don’t chyou go a-breakin’ it. Hahaha … Makes a guy hungry … Colonel… (shouts) COLONEL ! Oh, Col-on…
Col: WHAT !
(He appears from side. He obviously isn’t Colonel Tom Parker but a young man dressed in normal street wear.)
Elv: Hey ! What were you doing upstairs ? You know NO-ONE is allowed upstairs !
Col: Certainly not the cleaning lady. And as for the bathroom …
Elv: Hey! What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom.
Col: Yeah, just make sure it does. Would it kill you to open a window ?
Elv: (with exaggerated pathos)
You know I have a weak constitution. My lil’ ol’ body can’t take those winds rushing up from the Delta.
Col: Yeah, rolling in from the badlands of Kreutzberg. (1)
Elv : Why, you’d tease the bobtail off a muskrat. I know ya don’t mean a cotton pickin’ word. C’mere…give me a southern-fried hug …you know you want to.
(Elvis goes to grab Colonel, who leaps out of the way, almost into the audience. Elvis freezes, mid pose. Colonel now addresses the theatre.)
Col: It’s not easy. I mean, isn’t life hard enough without having a flatmate like this ? I blame myself … it was that party … the theme was ‘great singers of the past who are now past it.’ I chose Dean Martin, which … “Elvis,” here, thought was extremely funny, as he’d been to school with two brothers who were called Dean and Martin. Anyway, I chose ol’ red eyes then suggested that what with his physical dimensions, he’d be a dead – ringer for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. That was the day my music died. Mind you, the signs were all there. He once went through a Beethoven phase. He spent a week frowning at everyone, demanding that we all speak up. Of course, with Beethoven he only attracted geeky nerds. You know the sort … they understand computers. Believe Fox News is “fair and balanced”. Pockets full of crap: screwdrivers, batteries, long forgotten toffees … not a girlfriend between them … literally. Anyway, sorry for this digression but if you remember rightly, I was about to be slobbered over by that inflated blimp behind me. Consequently, I’ve no real desire to resume this play, but, the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the audience, the show must go on, yagga-yagga. Besides, I’ve learnt how to cope with all … nearly all … situations … Watch this…
(Colonel returns to his former position, ie, about to be hugged)
Col: SALAD !
(As predicted, this repulses Elvis.)
Elv: Lord have mercy, Colonel, give a guy a heart-attack. Ah, heck, ya can’t fool me. I know you’re a grizzled ol’ whiskey soaked man’s man, but, deep down, you’ve a huge capacity for love. I respect that. I know where you’re comin’ from and so if sometimes I don’t say it, well, doggone it, I love you, you ol’ moonshine shadow, you, (sings) “I don’t have a wooden heart.”
Col: No, just a wooden head.
(Goes to phone)
Elv : Say what, boy ?
Col: I said I’ll get onto the pizza hot line. What would you like on yours ?
Elv: Cheeseburger, of course. Hahaha, no, I’m only having my little laugh, no, gimme the Hawaiian Five – O.
Col: That’s pineapple and five types of meat ?
Elv: Yeah….and five of them. Gotta keep in shape.
Col: Oy, Elv, the guy here says if you order the Hawaiian Five -O-One, you get a free pair of jeans. Guess that’s some kinda baker humour.
Elv: I haven’t worn jeans since my ’69 special.
Hell, you know I don’t wear jeans … too restricting for my fan base.
(He can think of nothing else to say, after floundering around for a short while. Suddenly he strikes some poses and exaggerates his pelvic thrusts, which should be a balance of vulgarity and humour)
Col: Everyone’s a comedian, hey ? Oh, the guy said don’t try and fob the Gästarbeiter (2) delivery boy off with one of your tin foil medallions. They want cold, hard cash.
Elv: Cold and hard … just like their pizzas … HAHAHAHA … whee-whee, boy, you didn’t see that one coming, did you ?
Col: (With heavy sarcasm) No, gee that was a good one. Way to go, dude.
Elv: Spoken like a good ole boy !
Col: I was speaking to Jimmy the other day. You know Jimmy ? He’s a real American.
Elv: He’s not American ! He’s from San Diego. I don’t wanna hear … I’m worn out … you’re driving me too hard … what do I hire you for anyway ? You should be making all the day to day decisions … what pizza do I want ? How do I know ? That’s your job … I’ve got so many other things to think about, shows to prepare, a public constantly demanding more, wanting to know every rinky-dink detail … I tell you, they won’t be happy until I’m dead. No, don’t apologise, my head is too full up … I must prepare myself for pizza. I’ll be over here … in the Jungle Room.
Col: Well, that’s him quiet for a few minutes. Let me take advantage of this little respite to hip you in to some other info. As I was saying, it all started at that party. He blew everyone away. He was great. Dancing, singing, even the Southern accent kept up. He was fun and you know why ? Because people wanted him to be fun. He fed on their expectations and their spirit. And he got lucky. Yeah. Women who wouldn’t even look at him before, were fighting over each other for his attentions. He learnt the meaning of the English expression ‘knackered’ that night and no mistake. The fact that a girl I had my eye on went over to the far side and got herself “a hunk, a hunk of burning love,” didn’t exactly endear me to this sequinned monster I’d created. But I got over it. He didn’t. He’d found something he’d never had before. He was popular, people loved him. I don’t know where all the moves came from. Very disturbing. I’d advise you not to try any of them at home, certainly not in public. Illegal in seventeen states kinda moves. I thought it was just a phase. Unfortunately not. Quite the opposite … he’s now the head member of the Berlin branch of the Elvis impersonators. They’ve got their own website. He opens supermarkets, gets booked for parties and signs CD’s at markets and Messes (3). He signs … ‘Elvis Presley.’ It seems that people need Elvis, even if it patently isn’t Elvis. He pretends he is and they let him. They want him to be Elvis. The sonofagun makes more money than I do. He can pay for the pizzas … he’ll sure as hell’ll eat them.
Elv: (Makes sniffing noises) Pizza’s here.
(A knock on the door)
Col: Amazing. I suppose you want me to get that ? Sure you don’t want to meet your public ?
Elv: No, even the King must have one night off. Oh, to be King, but where is my queen ?
Col: Well, if you’re a good boy and eat up all your pizza, I’ll put on my Little Richard costume.
Elv: I told you never mention that man’s … er … make that woman’s name around here. He … er, she says she invented Rock ‘n’ Roll. Upstart, Johnny come lately, and don’t start me on Jerry Lewis.
Col: Guess you mean Jerry Lee Lewis.
Elv: I know what I mean, now get the door … pizza waits for no man, and this man don’t wait for pizza.
(Door is opened. There stands the Pizza Boy, loaded with boxes)
Pz : That’s 45 Euro and no tin foil. I’ve heard about you two.
Col: Me ? What have I done ?
Elv: Problem, Colonel ?
Pz : Colonel ? Bloody hell !
Col: No, it’s him, I’m not … what the hell am I speaking to you for ? You just deliver pizza, and not even quickly. If you think you’re getting a tip, you can whistle Dixie … you’d only spend it on comic books and bubble gum.
Elv: Whoa, there, Tiger, that’s no way to speak to guests in our fair country.
(Goes to door to speak to Pizza Boy, looking more at the boxes, than the boy)
Helloo, Chief … and … how … do …YOU … like our … country ?
Pz : Well, it’s OK, I guess. Get to meet all sorts of interesting people. See what they get up to. Makes me think my life ain’t so bad after all. So you taking these pizzas or what Mr Presley ? Or may I call you Elvis ?
Col: Ut-oh, that’s done it.
Elv: Why son of my heart, c’mere lemme give you a…
Pz : I don’t want one of those tin foil medalli …
(Gives enormous smacker on the mouth)
Pz : Aaarrgghhhh … fuck this for a job ….. think I’ll join the army.
Elv: And now’s a good time, plenty of work.
(Pizza Boy Exits cursing, random ad libs like, “Go back to Brokeback Mountain.”)
Elv: Kids … they love me, what can I do ? An’ yer know the best thing ?
Col: We didn’t pay.
Elv: Hot diggerdy-dog, yep, let’s eat.
END OF ACT ONE
(1) Kreutzberg – an area south of the river in Berlin, famous for being a student hang-out, full of bars and Turkish restaurants and, in the 80s & 90s, squat houses.
(2) Gästarbeiter -‘guest workers’, typically immigrants who work in the less desirable sectors such as cleaning or general unskilled work.
(3) Messes – trade fairs, business and marketing events
Nicholas has his own website: http://www.thesoulofelvis.de/photos.html