THE ELVIS, Raven Theatre. Everything that makes Will Kern’s long-running late-night comedy Hellcab such a brilliant play–his ear for dialogue, his eye for true-to-life scenes, his deft use of character-driven humor–is missing from this eccentric, corny, desperately unfunny rock musical. Kern’s new work (score by Shawn Letts and J.B. Skye), The Elvis, takes a cast of characters lifted from the pages of supermarket tabloids (Elvis lives with Jackie O., who admits she’s really the daughter of space aliens) and mixes them with a handful of Greek gods (Zeus, Hera, Ares) to create a wild, convoluted, and not very interesting plot.

A camp genius like Charles Ludlam could have had a field day with a story like this, packing it with lots of sly asides and satirical subtext. Kern plays mostly with surfaces, trying to get laughs with cheap one-liners and mock Elizabethan dialogue–lots of thous and thees and dosts–and moving to a new location and new character whenever things grind to a halt, which they do with the regularity of the 22 bus. Director Michael Menendian tries to compensate by packing the show with terrific comic performers–Will Casey, Holly Wantuch, Marc A. Nelson (Elvis)–but like Kern he doesn’t seem to know how to turn this chaos into comedy.

Kern, Letts, and Skye’s songs–most of them parodic homages to the pop rock of the Viva Las Vegas Elvis–are considerably more successful; there just aren’t enough of them. A dozen more like the witty knockoff “Viva Atlantis!” would have gone a long way toward redeeming this paper-thin book.