Little Potatoes

Matchmaking Mums at the Shanghai Marriage Market  
Little Potatoes is a powerful, bittersweet comedy-drama set in China about marriage, mothers, and family planning.

Written by Clare Reddaway, directed by Bryn Holding, performed by Michelle Wen Lee and Sarah Curwen.

‘My pick of #edfinge18. Don’t miss this incredibly powerful play.’

When Liuyang pins her daughter’s CV on an umbrella in a Shanghai Park, she expects questions about salary, job prospects and her daughter’s property portfolio. 

What she does not expect is to have to re-live her traumatic experiences under China’s one-child policy, and to face disturbing new realities.  

Some of our audience responses:  ‘Beautiful, heartbreaking’

‘Incredibly well written, intensely moving…amazingly acted’

‘Clever, funny, political and often very moving. One of the best-written plays I’ve seen in ages’

Playing multiple-roles two talented performers created a fast-paced narrative presenting the realities and repercussions of state controlled birth control. Little Potatoes offered a rare opportunity to see older East Asian female actors perform.  Michelle Wen Lee and Sarah Curwen brought years of experience and emotional depth to their roles, as they took women’s stories out of the house and onto the stage. 

Little Potatoes was performed at the Edinburgh Festival, August, 2018. Here’s an audio interview with FringeReview about the play.

We plan to tour Little Potatoes to venues in the south-west and London in Spring 2019.  It is also available for production in schools.

In 2018 Little Potatoes was also performed at the Egg Theatre Bath, on the Bath Theatre Bus at the Bath Fringe, at Clifton Library in Bristol. An extract of Little Potatoes was staged at the Arcola Theatre, London as part of Pokfulam Road’s Foreign Goods 3: “Michelle Wen Lee and Sarah Curwen shine… a highlight with its sensitive treatment of matchmaking mothers.” []

Little Potatoes was inspired by writer Clare Reddaway’s trip to China with her award-winning play The Red Court in 2017.  It was developed with the support of the Engage programme, Theatre Royal, Bath.  


More audience responses: ‘We both adored this play – it was incredibly well written.  Intensely moving, but knew when to cut the tension with well-crafted humour. Amazingly acted by the two actresses.  One we would recommend to everyone we know.”[Jim W and Priya S]

‘Surprisingly moving.  Many audience in tears! Two passionate and natural actresses. Kudos! Writing was the right balance of tension and restraint and humour.  Seemed to cross cultural lines very well.’ [Weiwei]

‘I loved this play.  It struck just the right balance between the awful decisions two women had to make under the one child policy and their everyday life and even humour as they plan their children’s future.  There’s some heartfelt acting, and more than a few tears before the end, but some really nicely observed comedic moments to break the tension. Some scenes will really stay with you long after the end.  Well worth seeing.’ [Luke Meredith]

‘I saw this with my 15 year old son and we both though it was a great production.  The effects of the one-child policy were explored but it never felt like a heavy-handed explanation of the different effects of the policy.  Emotional but also humourous in parts. 5*’ [Cath Thompson]


On Twitter: ‘What a fantastic play Little Potatoes is. A clever, funny, political and often very moving two-hander about the real impact of China’s one child policy. One of the best written plays I’ve seen in ages. Well done!’

‘Highly recommended – funny, sensitive and deeply heart-breaking – great performances/script.’

‘Loved the show! Poignant, gentle storytelling. The political and the individual. Highly recommended.’

‘Tender, heartbreaking and heart-warming’  

‘Fascinating, disturbing and entertaining in equal measure.’


Sarah and Michelle rehearsing

Here’s our trailer!

We have videos!!  To view three clips from Leftovers:

  • The two mothers meet for the first time at a marriage market in a Shanghai park.  Click here to view.
  • Hong and Liuyang discuss the one-child policy.  Click here to view.
  • Hong and Liuyang set their children up for a first date.  Click here to view.

MICHELLE WEN LEE.  Somerset-based actor, Michelle, originated the role of Ma Meifang in Clare Reddaway’s award-winning play The Red Court (Rondo Theatre Bath, Bath Fringe). Film includes London Road, Hummingbird, Rogue Trader, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. West End: Miss Saigon, Hey! Mr Producer. She has a BA Hons (Music Drama and Dance) from Birmingham University and Postgraduate Acting Diploma from Mountview Theatre School. Michelle plays Officer Kam in ITV’s new series Strangers starring John Sim.


SARAH CURWEN.  Sarah is a Bath-based playwright and performer. She has had plays produced by Theatre West, Engage and Rapscallion Theatre in the South-West. Last year she completed the inaugural Theatre Royal Bath Theatre School for Adults. Sarah is delighted to be performing in Little Potatoes – her fourth outing in a Clare Reddaway play! Sarah’s new play Dr Wu – Queen of Beta Decay about Professor Wu Chien Shiung, was performed at the Bath Theatre Royal new writing festival in April.



CLARE REDDAWAY.  Clare’s plays have performed and recorded, mainly in Bath and Bristol (Ustinov, the Egg, Rondo, Mission, Zion, Bierkeller), but also in London (Arcola Theatre, the Bunker, Theatro Technis, the Space), Sheffield (Crucible Studio), Salisbury, Wales, and Cambridge. She has won awards for plays The Red Court and Angel of Peckham.  Forthcoming shows: in the autumn Sungrazer will be at the Old Red Lion, Islington and Iconoclast will be on in Salisbury.  For more