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Review: Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis, at Park 90

19 December, 2019 — By Clair Chapwell

Charlie Bence, Sioned Jones and Andrew P Stephen in Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis. Photo: Lidia Crisafulli

IF you haven’t booked your holiday treat put this on your list, pronto. In fact, even if your diary is bulging with holiday treats make space. It’s so much fun.

A beautifully acted ensemble piece, directed by co-producer Robert Wolstenholme, Martha Josie and the Chinese Elvis is laugh-out-loud funny and the cast bounce off one another with fierce joy.

Despite the tricky title, playwright Charlotte Jones has created a witty, feelgood saga about six losers who are ultimately winners.

Curtain up on a dismal sitting room in Bolton in 1998 with exhausted dominatrix Mum Josie (Kellie Batchelor, also co-producer), daughter Brenda Marie with special needs in a tutu and crown (Charlie Bence) watching their flat being compulsively cleaned by the pious Martha (Sioned Jones). We are chuckling nervously within minutes.

Jones carries on adding characters to the mix, flawed in unexpected ways, whom we come to love and want to find love and happiness.

The play teeters on the edge of farce in the style of Alan Ayckbourn. The characters are well drawn with back stories so the humour comes from a real place, and doesn’t leave you feeling as though you’ve eaten an entire box of Quality Street in 10 minutes.

The atmosphere never stays down for long. After we have heard someone’s sad, past story, Jones undercuts the tension with a deft, final flip line. Book now. You won’t be sorry.

Until January 4, 2020
020 7870 6876


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