Comedy to kick start summer at the New Vic

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Rachael Henley as Louise and Jun Hwang as Timothy Wong. Image by Tony Bartholomew.

The New Vic’s Summer Season opens with the life-affirming comedy Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis.

A co-production between the New Vic and the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, this joyous play is about learning to love who you are – flaws and all!

Josie is about to turn 50 and she’s not happy about it. Being a stay-at-home dominatrix is hard enough but she’s lost the will to dominate! Feeling middle-aged and tired, she doesn’t want to make a fuss of her big birthday but Lionel, her most loyal customer, is determined to make sure she celebrates!

With the help of Josie’s daughter, Brenda Marie and Martha, the family’s obsessive-compulsive cleaner, Lionel’s put on a spread and has booked a surprise guest to serenade his friend in the form of Elvis impersonator, Timothy Wong. The only trouble is, the ‘King’ doesn’t really know the words to the songs and when another guest turns up unannounced, it looks like the party is over…

Returning to the New Vic to direct Charlotte Jones’ wonderfully compelling story is Gemma Fairlie, whose production of Beryl staged at the theatre in 2017 delighted audiences. Fairlie brings together a talented cast of six to bring the quirky characters in this play to life. Shelley Atkinson (Reared, Theatre 503; The Borrowers, New Vic Theatre) plays Martha, an Irish Catholic Cleaner whose obsessive compulsiveness is hindering her love life. Jemma Churchill (Nativity! The Musical, UK tour; Hoard Festival, New Vic Theatre) plays Josie, a stay-at-home dominatrix who finds herself at 50 having lost the will to dominate and trying to figure out what her next move is. Rachael Henley (One of Each, Raising Agents, Mikron Theatre Company) plays Louise – a surprise visitor about to shake up Josie’s world alongside Timothy Wong, an Elvis impersonator who’s got the style but doesn’t know all of the lyrics, played by Jun Hwang in his first professional stage role. Zara Jayne (The Fix, Lyric Hammersmith; Fix Us, The Vaults) plays Josie’s ice-skating obsessed daughter Brenda-Marie and completing the company, Eamonn Riley (Our Town, Royal Exchange Theatre; A View From A Bridge, Bolton Octagon) plays Lionel, Josie’s most loyal customer.

Alongside laugh-out-loud comedy and poignant moments that will tug at audiences’ heartstrings, this play also features a number of Elvis classics performed live-on-stage as the characters navigate the obstacles placed in the way of their happiness.

Director Gemma Fairlie said: “Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis is joyful and very funny. I hope our audience will fall in love with these characters, who are brilliantly written and a lot of fun to spend some time with.”

A suggested age guidance of 14+ applies to the production.

**See Baba’s What’s ON for ticket information here.