I am someone who is consumed by the study of history, and feels that history is not something that should be played fast and loosed with. It is therefore understandable why I would have trouble with Christian Levatino’s “King Dick”.
First the facts, Levatino uses as the basis of his play, one of the strangest meetings that ever took place in Washington D.C., when on December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley arrived at the White House to offer his service to President Richard Nixon.
Elvis was concerned about what he regarded as forces working against the well being of America: The commies, the hippies, the Back Panthers and of course, the Beatles.
Elvis went to Nixon seeking to be made a “Federal Agent at Large”, in order for him to infiltrate these groups and report back to the government. He also wanted a badge.
This encounter has all ready been the subject of documentaries and one film, and is shortly to be the focus of a new film by Liza Johnson starring Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon, and Michael Shannon as Elvis slated for release in 2016.
Even the photo from that meeting of the King and Nixon shaking hands is the most requested photo from the National Archives.
However, my problem with Levatino’s “King Dick” is the same as my problem with his earlier work “A Sunny Afternoon” about the 12 hours Lee Oswald spent being interrogated by the Dallas police between his arrest on Friday after the JFK murder until his death at the hands of Jack Ruby.
Levatino has no understanding of, nor it seems, respect for history.
In “King Dick” Levantino doesn’t commit to writing a farce, and he is certainly not writing history.
While the play is funny, it lies to its audience and does a disservice to both the art of the theatre and the study of history.
Sorry, but to me, any play that doesn’t know what it is, and isn’t honest to its audience is just crap. I don’t care how much the audience laughs.
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