Tag Archives: Matt Lim

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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Break of Noon – 1.5 Stars


Break of Noon

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 28th May 2018


“At points it sounds more like he is reading a menu than philosophising on love and religion”


From the Indian Ocean, to Hong Kong, to China, ‘Break of Noon’ follows the interweaving lives of four people, underscored by the murmurings of rebellion and decolonisation. Ysé is unhappily married to an entrepreneurial chancer who chases money across the globe. On one of their voyages she meets Amalric, an ex lover of years before, who pushes her towards the arms of Meza, who must choose between his faith in God and this strange new love for Ysé. Autobiographical to some extent, Paul Claudel wrote the play in 1905 but its resurrection is unfortunately a resounding failure.

Every element of the play is weak. The design is weak, getting progressively more lacklustre as the acts go on, and the costumes lack any attention to detail. The direction has the cast standing predominantly still, proclaiming monologue after monologue to each other, crowded statically in corners of the stage, unnatural and uncomfortable to watch.

Whilst some of the language of love is truly beautiful, every speech is so long, so dragged on that it takes an incredible effort to stay engaged with what is being said. The speeches drag on and one metaphor clouds another until the beauty of the words is lost in their mass. It is unclear why the decision to resurrect this play has been made, and it feels overblown, declamatory and clunky, and climatic moments become laughable.

Matt Lim struggles desperately in the central role of Meza. He improves marginally in the final act, but is otherwise bland and uncharacterised. At points it sounds more like he is reading a menu than philosophising on love and religion. There is no connection or chemistry between Meza and Ysé, and this irresistible, all consuming love is something we hear about a lot but do not see onstage. He is inappropriately cast, certainly considerably younger than the role requires, making him incredibly difficult to believe. The other three are stronger, and do their best with a combination of rigid script and direction. Whilst his part is the smallest, David Durham as De Ciz is strong, committed and convincing, and Connor Williams as Amalric is equally persuasive. Elizabeth Boag’s Ysé is fluent, warm and playful, a woman struggling to survive in a world where her free will is not guaranteed, and she must be disarmingly reliant on the men around her for her safety.

The energy and commitment of these three is commendable, and all that drives the play onwards, in an otherwise unsuccessful resurrection of Claudel’s ‘Break of Noon’.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Hannan Images


Break of Noon

Finborough Theatre until 5th June




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