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Martha, Josie and The Chinese Elvis

New Vic – Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis

8 May 2019 Local News Theatre


The New Vic Theatre – Martha, Josie and The Chinese Elvis

By Charlotte Jones
Directed by Gemma Fairlie

Review by Hitmix Radio

Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis …… not the most inspiring title … I didn’t really know if I was looking forward to it or not.

But whilst Elvis was there, in the form of very talented Chinese Elvis Impersonator, Timothy Wong (played by Jun Hwang), the story centred around Josie (Jemma Churchill), and family life.

It’s Josie’s 50th Birthday – she’s not happy to be 50 and is taking a long hard look at her life. Josie is a Dominatrix! In fact, she is a ‘working from home’ dominatrix, so that she can take care of her daughter Brenda Marie (Zara Jayne) who has learning difficulties. Brenda Marie spends a lot of time in the garden in her tent, dreaming about ice skating and her dead twin sister Shelley Louise (Rachel Henley). She is very much more aware, however, of what is going on around her than everyone thinks, and loves to taunt the cleaner, Martha (Shelley Atkinson) a devout Catholic who suffers with OCD.  There is a lot of dusting and a lot of counting going on (1 2 3 4 5, 1 2 3 4 5, 1 2 3 4 5)! Brenda Marie also likes to have a little dig at Lionel (Eamonn Riley), one of Josie’s loyal cross-dressing clients who over the years has become a family friend. Incidentally, he looks great in the maids outfit!

©Tony Bartholomew 
©Tony Bartholomew

So …Lionel organises a birthday party for Josie to cheer her up although she doesn’t really want one, and he invites the Chinese Elvis to perform. He also invites the virtuous, unassuming cleaner Martha who he clearly has designs on. To top it all Brenda Marie’s ‘dead’ twin sister turns up!

©Tony Bartholomew

This is obviously a great eclectic mix of characters which could only result in a very funny play!  And it is hilarious!  The characters are all very likeable and very well cast – all six actors giving animated and credible performances.  And there are some very nice ‘double acts’ in there!  As well as the humour, it is a moving story about relationships, regrets, dreams and possibilities.  The complexities of life!

©Tony Bartholomew

For me, the humour exceeds the poignancy, which I like!

Martha, Josie and The Chinese Elvis is a very entertaining play, and I highly recommend it. It is on at the Vic Theatre until Saturday 18th May – treat yourself to a great, uplifting night out!

Hitmix’s Sonya Farrell went to The New Vic to chat with three of the cast members – Jemma Churchill who plays Josie, Zara Jayne who plays Brenda Marie and Eamonn Riley who plays Lionel.  Here’s what they had to say!!


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