🎭 Chicken Burger N Chips
📍 Brixton House
🎫 Gifted

“The world wasn’t designed for us to succeed playboy, you gotta clock that we’re living in an uneven society.”

Written by Corey Bovell and directed by TD. Moyo, Chicken Burger N Chips is a fast-paced, witty play that tells a story about gentrification and the impact it’s having on the lives of its youths. 

Set in South London, Bovell has produced an authentic coming-of-age story, full of nostalgic references, notable music and the most upbeat performance.

The story

Summer holidays are here and 18-year-old Corey awaits his A-Level results. During his regular routine of hanging out in fast food chain, Morleys with the mandem, Corey meets Jodie, who makes him realise the changes occurring in the Lewisham borough. The more time spent together, Corey grapples with the notion of staying in ‘ends’ or leaving to pursue his dreams.

The play explores gentrification as Corey watches local Lewisham landmarks be demolished and replaced with flats, yoga mats & hipsters – leaving no shops, no markets, and no culture. 

A run-in with rivals further touches on the impact of gang violence and the fear and uncertainty this causes amongst young Black men. As a friend tells Corey that “we live in an uneven society”, Corey wonders what the future holds for him. 

Photo by Helen Murray

My thoughts

TD. Moyo creatively directs the performance with Corey (played by Gamba Cole) cooking fried chicken live on stage as shares his story. This was a fascinating directional choice from Moyo, that didn’t interrupt the flow of the play.

Allyson Julien’s set design accurately represented a family kitchen; photographs on the fridge, a noughties-looking stereo, Ainsley Harriot cookbooks and Dunn’s River seasoning on the counter. Cole utilises the entire space as he shares his adoration for Lewisham. He describes Morley’s as the ‘beacon of South London’, and it’s clear the food spot became a sanctuary for him and his friends. 

Photo by Helen Murray

Gamba Cole puts on a fantastic performance as Corey in this solo show. Cole oozed charisma and humour in the role, keeping the audience engrossed all throughout. 

Bovell’s writing is engaging, witty and sparks pure joy, which is exactly what Cole delivered. I laughed a lot during the performance, especially during the scenes in Morley’s. 

There was multi-roleplaying from Cole as he effortlessly transformed into different characters in the story. Cole impressively showcased a range of mannerisms. Each character portrayal felt relatable, adding even more depth to the story. Additionally, Ben Garcia’s seamless lighting design did well to indicate the transitions between characters. The show also featured musical interludes of various genres, and the audience couldn’t help but join in.

Photo by Helen Murray

Overall, Chicken Burger N Chips is captivating, filled to the brim with enthusiasm and joy. It’s incredibly moving as Bovell incorporates important themes throughout. At its core, the show is a celebration of South London. It also takes its time to explore issues teenagers face and the socio-economic impacts of gentrification in working-class areas in London.

As a Millenial that grew up in South London, eating Morley’s every other day after school, I am thankful that this play exists. I hope it returns for an even longer run on stage!