Wackers, 45-49 Gillygate, York
Wed Jun 1-Fri Jun 3
Who wouldn’t be enticed by the promise of fish and chips, music and theatre?
Tickets at the ready, I arrived at Wackers hungry and excited to see #ChipShopTheMusical, part of the 2016 Yorkshire Festival. A delicious meal of fish and chips is included as part of this unusual theatrical event.
The two-man play tells the story of two people fighting to hang on to a sense of their own identity – middle aged Gram, lover of brass band music and sole owner of a busy fish and chip café somewhere in Yorkshire and teenager Ayla – secretly dreaming of a career in grime music and looking for a way to find a life away from her home town.
The opening score quickly introduces us to the slightly lost and grieving Gram, left to run the fish and chip shop on his own after the death of his father.
Set in his ways and resistant to change, Gram is left with no choice but to employ the loud and equally stubborn Ayla so that he can keep on top of the work.
A short performance of only 45 minutes, the story arc is a familiar one. Two different generations collide, at odds not only in their choice of music but also their views on life in Yorkshire.
Can they find some sort of middle ground and work together to keep the fish and chip shop in business?
Love of music
The premise may be simple but the script is far from it. Emma Hill slowly reveals the true depth of her characters and, together with the excellent mix of brass and grime, reveals that Gram and Ayla are actually united in their fear for the future and sense of loneliness.
Afraid to fail but too proud to admit it, they find a voice together through a love of music.
I found the journey taken by Gram (played by Darren Southworth) particularly touching as we saw him come out from under the shadows of a domineering father figure and find his own way forward.
I know very little about grime but Ayla (Remmie Milner) sings her way through the lyrics with an impressive physical energy.
While the play deals with some grown up issues and the songs are quite liberally littered with mild swearing, #ChipShopTheMusical delivers enough funny lines and a fast moving pace to make this a great evening for the whole family.
The action occurs around you as the cast move from table to table, interacting with props right under your nose and even swooshing tablecloths around your head in the final number.
I can fully recommend catching the show as it continues to tour the region.