Tag Archives: Lidia Crisafulli

Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis

★★★★★

Park Theatre

Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis

Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 13th December 2019

★★★★★

 

“pretty darn perfect; hilarious and surprisingly moving, performed by a cast at the top of their game”

 

Well, that was a treat! Definitely the best thing I could have done to dispel my election result blues was to go and see this gem of a play. This year is the twenty-first anniversary of the play’s first production, which won it the Pearson Best Play Award for playwright Charlotte Jones. Jones’ best known play is ‘Humble Boy’, and ‘Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis’ shows the same genius for comedy, and the same humanity and understanding of family dynamics. This production, directed by Robert Wolstenholme, is pretty darn perfect; hilarious and surprisingly moving, performed by a cast at the top of their game.

Josie, beautifully played by Kellie Batchelor, is a bored dominatrix, not excited to be turning forty. Batchelor’s Josie in immediately likeable, matter of fact and funny; not what you would probably imagine a dominatrix to be, she can’t even be bothered to dress up any more. Lionel, a regular client who has become a friend, decides to throw her a birthday party that she doesn’t want. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, it turns out! Lionel has taken on quite a task, and Andrew P Stephen, after a laugh out loud appearance as Josie’s client, is charming as he attempts to make everyone have a good night, topping up glasses with his ‘catastrophe’ cocktail mix and determinedly trying to make the evening fun. Josie’s dreamer of a daughter, Charlie Bence’s Brenda-Marie knows she has learning difficulties and has built a fantasy version of herself as an ice-skating champion. She has some great interjections and Bence keeps the warm heart of the play beating, even while everyone is falling apart. Martha is the cleaner, a good Irish catholic with numerical OCD. Sioned Jones is splendid in the role, cleaning, counting, worrying and disapproving, and always very, very funny. The Chinese Elvis of the title turns out to be Timothy, Vietnamese, and very new to the Elvis business. He has been hired by Lionel to entertain Josie, a huge Elvis fan, at her party. But finds himself in the middle of a bizarre family drama that includes the appearance of an unexpected visitor. I don’t want to give the game away, so I will just say that Jessica Forrest plays the surprise arrival with honesty and feeling, bringing in the darker moments of the play. Timothy is played by Matt Lim, and he is a sweet Elvis, posturing, not knowing the words and trying gamely to do his job in the midst of utter chaos.

I loved this play, with its lightning repartee and belly laughs, its compassion and wit. The cast don’t put a foot wrong; it’s tight and zippy, gentle and fierce. Brilliant. The audience loved it. There were moments of spontaneous applause during the action and a standing ovation at the end. Highly recommended!

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 


Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis

Park Theatre until 4th January

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Napoli, Brooklyn | ★★★★ | June 2019
Summer Rolls | ★★★½ | June 2019
The Time Of Our Lies | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Weatherman | ★★★ | August 2019
Black Chiffon | ★★★★ | September 2019
Mother Of Him | ★★★★★ | September 2019
Fast | ★★★★ | October 2019
Stray Dogs | | November 2019
Sydney & The Old Girl | ★★★★ | November 2019
The Snow Queen | ★★★★ | December 2019

 

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Meet me at Dawn

★★★

Arcola Theatre

Meet me at Dawn

Meet me at Dawn

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 16th October 2019

★★★

 

“the writing itself is strong, as are the performances, but it just misses the mark in its conclusion”

 

Having been met with great acclaim in the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival, Meet Me At Dawn, as directed by Murat Daltaban, comes to the Arcola for its London premiere.

Helen (Jessica Hardwick) and Robyn (Marianne Oldham) find themselves washed up on shore after their boat capsizes. They’re struggling to locate themselves, working out how to get help, how to go home. But as the adrenaline from their accident starts to wear off, they realise that their surroundings are a little off; that all is not as it seems or as it should be.

Attempting to tackle the inescapable trauma of grief, writer Zinnie Harris takes her inspiration from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It doesn’t quite come together in the same way, but you can see how her efforts have led to her writing Meet Me At Dawn.

Hardwick and Oldham seem to have a genuine affection for one another; there’s a sense of years of intimacy in their performances. The dialogue is quippy and honest, combining practical, familiar chat with surreal memories and poetic contemplation.

A shining black floor and background of changing block colours (designed by director Murat Daltaban, and Cen Yilmazer) add to the sense of unrealness. Abstract piano music and an echo on the dialogue (Oğuz Kaplangi) slip in and out of use, presumably to pinpoint certain poignant moments, but it’s a little random. It’s not that their use is inappropriate to the atmosphere, but rather they don’t appear to mark anything in particular, as the dialogue itself muddles abstraction with pragmatism throughout.

In her programme note, Harris talks about the idea of someone grief-stricken wishing for just a moment longer, and the application of that being a nightmare in reality. But she seems unable to resist a little over-sentimentality in her dealing with this idea. It’s a shame because the writing itself is strong, as are the performances, but it just misses the mark in its conclusion. Meet Me At Dawn poses some interesting questions, but its answers don’t quite satisfy.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 


Meet me at Dawn

Arcola Theatre until 9th November

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
A Hero of our Time | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Stop and Search | ★★ | January 2019
The Daughter-In-Law | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Little Miss Sunshine | ★★★★★ | April 2019
The Glass Menagerie | ★★★★ | May 2019
Radio | ★★★★ | June 2019
Riot Act | ★★★★★ | June 2019
Chiflón, The Silence of the Coal | ★★★★ | July 2019
The Only Thing A Great Actress Needs, Is A Great Work And The Will To Succeed | ★★★ | July 2019
Anna Bella Eema | ★★★ | September 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews