#ChipShoptheMusical advertises curiosity and intrigue. One wonders how it is possible for a musical to be based on fish and chips? There is and in a production presented jointly by Emma Hill Writes, Freedom Studios and the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.
First of all, a meal of fish and chips is served in the restaurant before the tables are cleared to become the performing space. The performance takes place in the heart of the restaurant where the audience is the centre of the action.
The hour long musical is about Gram who considers himself as a ‘Master of Chips’ and runs the family owned fish and chips shop/restaurant. He reluctantly agrees to Ayla helping out in the shop/restaurant providing she lays out the tables his way.
Darren Southworth excellently portrays Gram as a proud no nonsense owner who is passionate about tradition and Yorkshire brass. Remmie Milner puts in a stellar performance as a confident and grime music loving Ayla. Both characters cannot be any different in personalities and outlooks on life. Both Gram and Ayla clash and their feelings are expressed in rap, mc and songs. Frustrations from Gram are noted in songs, Just do as I bloody well say! and You can’t do it!
Southworth and Milner interact and engage well with the small audience; the performance space is certainly personal and intimate and the audience is certainly in the heart of it all with their tables ‘being arranged’, ‘orders taken’ and their ‘food brought’. The rapping and singing is to local brass and international grime with audience participation to the catchy Chip Shop The Musical song at the end.
#ChipShoptheMusical is traditional with a modern twist under the direction of Ben Occhipinti. Both Ayla and Gram may be totally different but their predicaments turn out to be same, with Gram asking How Can I break Free and Live my Life? Their life journeys are shared side by side in performance and song and subsequently brave together the elements of change and figuratively becoming fish and chips. It makes one wonder how holding onto traditions and forming those views can influence the modern world today particularly with family relationships in the past and present.
This innovative musical has begun in Bolton and is currently touring Yorkshire.
Reviewed on: 1st June 2016
Reviewed by: Dawn Smallwood
North West End Rating: ★★★★