Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis

cast: (From left) Helen Barley, Rob Chambers (standing), Ed Ashworth, Allison McCrae and Chelsea Richter.
cast: (From left) Helen Barley, Rob Chambers (standing), Ed Ashworth, Allison McCrae and Chelsea Richter.

a BITTERSWEET comedy about a dominatrix on the verge of retirement is playing in Belper this week.

Belper Players’ production of ‘Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis’ is on this week at the Strutt Centre, until Friday March 30.

Described as a perfectly-crafted, bittersweet comedy, the play was written by award-winning playwright Charlotte Jones, and won the Critics’ Circle award when it was premiered in 2004.

Director Jane Wilton discovered the script in the National Theatre’s bookshop in London. She said: “The play is set on the feast of the epiphany and is all about revelation. By the end all the characters have become better versions of themselves. I was coming back on the train, laughing my head off. I knew it could be done, and would go down really well. Charlotte Jones writes so well. She’s always warm and funny but her plays have that poignancy about them. And her use of music adds another dimension.”

The play is set on January 6 - the feast of the Epiphany - and it’s also Josie’s birthday but she’s in no mood to celebrate her fortieth and has decided to hang up the tools of her dominatrix profession for the last time. But then Lionel, her most loyal customer arrives and insists she has a party.

There’s a knock at the door and an extraordinary chain of events is set in motion — it’s now or never for all her guests.

This is Jane’s second Charlotte Jones play. The first was Humble Boy which she co-directed with Ed Ashworth.

Tickets are available from Joyce Towle on 01335 370827 and cost £6. People can also book at www.belperplayers.org.uk.

The play contains adult themes and is not considered suitable for children.