Apparently, I do.
Today, I braved rain, floods and landslides (oh, my) in order to go see Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis at Burien Little Theatre. If you live in the Seattle area, you have three more chances to see this show, and if you miss it, you will be reduced to a pathetic wreck of a human being, weeping with remorse until the day you die. I mean, c’mon, how often do you get to see a show about a demotivated dominatrix, an obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, a cross-dressing drycleaner, a wanna-be ice dancing daughter, and an allegedly dead woman? Not to mention, Chinese Elvis!
Maggie and Eric truly find some fucked-up shit to put on, but man, is it ever good.
This is one of those moments I cursed myself for not bringing the camera. There were some strikingly artistic, truly beautiful and haunting moments in this play. When soon-to-be-former dominatrix Josie Botting is standing at the top of the stairs, watching her daughter try to walk in her stilettos on the hapless Chinese Elvis, everything about her screamed noir. It was a moment worthy of film. And it wasn’t the only one.
Alas, I haven’t got a picture of it, but courtesy of Ken Holmes and Phillip Benais, you can have a taste:
You can read about how outstanding the play is at the link, there, and every kind word is true. Myself, I want to give a few particular shout-outs to the cast. Gerald B. Browning, who plays Lionel Trills, had the hard job of making a balding transvestite sub drycleaner come across as the most admirable man in the universe – and he does. Loved him. Geni Hawkins, who plays the very repressed housecleaner, does the best Irish accent outside of Ireland, and let me just say she makes you root for good girls wanting to go bad. Kelli Mohrbacher had a hard job playing Brenda Marie Botting, the “simple” twin, but she made you want to run her straight out for a pair of ice skates and a sequined costume (you’ll understand why, should you see the show). Angelica Duncan, who is long-lost twin Louise Botting, played a difficult character to perfection (and I shall say no more, least I spoil your fun when you see it). They were all outstanding. They all got and deserved center stage. Which makes me feel guilty singling out the next two for special treatment.
But Alexandra Novotny… holy damn. I mean, honestly, she runs through the shadings of an extremely complex character flawlessly, and her expression was so fucking perfect. Some people can act without saying a word, without even moving more than a few muscles in a face. She is one. She left me breathless. And no, it didn’t have anything to do with that cocktail dress toward the end there, although it was an excellent costuming choice. War paint, indeed!
I felt like bowing to her when I left. Seriously did.
And yet, she very nearly got overshadowed by Ken Wong, who is the Chinese Elvis that Lionel hires for a birthday party that turns bizarre. People, we are talking about an American who managed a Cockney-Chinese accent even while singing just like Elvis. Everything – his timing, his delivery, his expressions, his movements – everything was perfect. I mean, look at his face up there. Does that not look like a hapless, rookie Chinese Elvis who’s been having a horrible night of it, and is now wondering just how to fuck he’s gotten into this mess and wishes someone would come rescue him from it?
He even delivers a line as corny as “Elvis has left the building” in a way that was funny, fresh, and brought the fucking house down.
And in case you see the play and wonder: no, he’s not lip-syncing. That’s really him, singing Cockney-Chinese Elvis and sounding eerily like the King.
They couldn’t have found a more perfect cast for this show. ‘Twas a delight, worth risking life and limb and missing the weekly phone call with my best friend for. If you get a chance, go. Just go. You’ve got all next weekend for it.
Do not end up spending the rest of your life moaning about missing it.