Theatre review – Kath Baggaley

Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis, Bolton Octagon

Saturday 19 March 2016.


This was an extremely enjoyable performance which highlighted the deep rooted problems of the characters and how, in the course of the evening, they helped each other overcome them.  All six characters were brilliantly portrayed, from the Chinese Elvis (from Whalley Range!) who didn’t believe he could sing, to Martha, the Irish cleaner with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), the dominatrix Josie and her client Lionel who liked to wear dresses, to Martha’s twin daughters.

Brenda-Marie, played by Anna Wheatley, was born with a learning disability and, like the Chinese Elvis, is a vulnerable character, “an old soul”, and wise beyond her years.  This was a poignant and comic tour-de-force by Anna Wheatley.  Her twin sister Louise, played by Natalie Grady, has been damaged by her childhood but, now confident, needs to make up with her estranged family.  The story unfolded at quite a pace with great humour and with the added bonus of some classic Elvis tracks along the way.  The final snow scene, accompanied by the soaring strains of Elvis’s American Trilogy, was fantastic.

It all ended with a well-deserved standing ovation and I, for one, could watch it all again.

Thanks to Kath Baggaley for this report.


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