Bolton’s Olympus Fish and Chip Restaurant to host Chip Shop the Musical

Tasos Pattichis and Emma Hill

Tasos Pattichis and Emma Hill - Credit: Archant

There’s something unusual on the menu at a Bolton chippy this month. Paul Mackenzie reports

Emma Hill

Emma Hill - Credit: Archant

As a teenager Emma Hill had a brief spell working in her local chip shop and now she’s back for another temporary stint among the fryers. Her play Chip Shop the Musical will be performed for ten nights this month in the Olympus fish and chip shop in Bolton town centre.

And while a chippy isn’t a conventional place to stage a play, this isn’t a conventional chippy – how many others run coach tours and have a pianist to serenade diners?

The production is a departure for the Octagon Theatre and for Tasos Pattichis who runs the takeaway and restaurant. ‘I’m very excited about this and I would definitely like this sort of event to be regular,’ he said. ‘The business is built on ideas and I’m always looking at ways to diversify the business.’

The play follows Ayla, a teenager with a passion for grime music who starts work in a chippy run by middle-aged brass band fan Gram.

Ayla in Chip Shop the Musical which premieres in Bolton this month

Ayla in Chip Shop the Musical which premieres in Bolton this month - Credit: not Archant

‘The play fuses two different musical styles, grime music is not used much in the theatre at the moment, so we are doing lots of new things and everyone is really excited,’ said Emma. ‘We have a local MC doing the grime music for us because we want to represent that world accurately. It is a musical but people don’t burst into song, the music is throughout the play and it helps to tell the story, the music is always there in the background.’

Although Emma worked in a chip shop in Wakefield after moving north from London as a teenager, she added: ‘There are a few traits of Tasos in Gram but there is more of the character in a woman I worked with at a gallery in Wakefield who was something of a mentor for me.

‘I used to work in a chip shop when I was a teenager, in the restaurant behind the take away, but my mum marched me in there one day and said I wouldn’t be working there any more as punishment for something or other.’

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Mum-of-one Emma, a former actor in touring productions, began to take writing more seriously about ten years ago and was longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize in 2013. She also now works with children in writing workshops at organisations like Raise the Youth Foundation in Bolton which aims to improve the outlook for disadvantaged and marginalised young people.

Emma Hill and Tasos Pattichis

Emma Hill and Tasos Pattichis - Credit: Archant

‘I hope we will work with similar groups wherever we tour the show,’ she added. ‘In the play, Ayla is a young woman on the cusp of adulthood. She lacks confidence and this can come across at times as rudeness, but she’s really good and does well. I work with young people on writing workshops and I notice over and again people who lack confidence.’ w

Chip Shop the Musical will run at the Olympus Chip Shop, Great Moor Street, Bolton, BL1 1SW from May 11-21 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £18, £16 for concessions, and include fish, chips and a drink. Call the box office on 01204 520661 to book.