Interview: Jennifer Lim on Worth, “A rollicking good ride”

Worth, a dark new comedy-drama by Joanne Lau, explores family loss and sibling rivalry and sees the Yeung siblings gather in the family home for the first time in years, hours before their mother’s funeral, only to discover their inheritance is missing. With seemingly only £44 cash to her name and the house due to be repossessed, where has all the money gone? Tensions escalate as they race to find it, uncovering ugly truths and shocking family secrets along the way.

The play, inspired by true events, takes a darkly comic look at family loss and sibling rivalry and stars Sara Chia-Jewell (May), Zachary Hing (Anthony), Stephen Hoo (Ted), Arthur Lee (Jacob) and Jennifer Lim (Penny).

Following a run at Arcola, London, Worth has transferred to the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester for a run that lasts until Saturday 20 May. We caught up with Lim during the London run to talk about the play and what it’s like to be brining the show to Chester.

Jennifer Lim Q&A with The Understudy

What can you tell us about Worth and your role in the play?

Worth is about four siblings coming together after their mother’s death and discovering that they’ve been left with an inheritance of £44….it’s a black comedy about sibling rivalry, family dynamics and intergenerational trauma. I play Penny – the second child of the family and mother to Anthony.

What was it that most attracted you to the play and the role of Penny?

The play is very funny and dark at the same time. It totally captures the experience of growing up straddling two cultures and the characters are all so juicy and delicious. An opportunity that doesn’t come by often for British East and Southeast Asian actors…….Penny is a role that couldn’t be farthest from my real self and I relish the opportunity to explore her inner life and be someone else on stage.

Worth is playing in both London and Chester – did that add to the interest of the play?

Totally. The Arcola is a great venue and I hope that this will bring more people to come see the play. As for Chester, I’ve never been but I’ve heard amazing things about the place and also about Storyhouse Theatre so I’m really excited about that.

Also to take a play told from an East/Southeast Asian perspective, that’s so genuinely exciting, to a major regional theatre is such a huge opportunity on so many fronts.

Do you think audiences will react differently in different locations?

The play is about a British Chinese family but I think it’s relatable to anyone – just think of family coming together for a funeral or Christmas!……the cultural nuances might be better appreciated by a London audience because the population here is a lot more diverse but I think a Chester audience will still be able to identify with the family dynamics which is a universal experience.

Finally, how would you describe Worth to someone considering buying a ticket?

You’re in for a rollicking good ride with lots of laughter, maybe some tears and definitely food for thought long after the play is over. Think of a British Chinese version of a Martin McDonagh film.

Worth is now at the Storyhouse Theatre, Chester until 20 May.