Cardiff’s first ‘curry musical’ Half ‘n’ Half has been served up. This new musical, at Wales Millennium Centre, celebrates the Great British Curry and the people who make it and is a real feelgood family show.
The opening of the musical coincides with National Curry Week and to get us in the mood Ffresh, one of the Centre’s restaurants and cafe bars, is serving a special pre-show curry to get people’s taste buds tingling with the range of spices on offer. The only difference was we had been transported to 1987 and the Taj Mahal restaurant on Cowbridge Road East in Cardiff.
The musical follows the lives of Ali, the boss of the curry house who is ready to retire to his native Bangladesh home, but he faces a large dilemma of who should take over the business? His nephew Khan, or Rafiq, the streetwise head waiter who is of no blood relation but very reliable? Will blood turn out to be “thicker than water”? Trouble appears with the arrival of Mr Bajar who is the self-proclaimed Balti King from Birmingham.
This very funny and enjoyable show explores the layers of cultural identity that are specific to Cardiff as well as many other places around the UK. During the show we also begin to find out the significance of the title of the musical and also see how this too has references to culture. As well as the comic moments and songs of the musical you also had some of the more serious elements that were underlying at the time. A good example of this was when a football supporter came into the restaurant and ordered a curry while also saying racist remarks towards the staff they simply dismissed it as “racist banter” and nothing can be done because “the customer is always right”.
The writer and composer of this musical , Tim Riley, has created original songs that come from Western, Bollywood, and South Asian folk musical influences. Plaudits also deserved by director Vic Silvalingam and the entire cast. The best known cast member is Boyd Clack who rose to fame from his hit shows High Hopes and Satellite City, playing Fat Frank. The four-person band filled the theatre with music that really did get the audience’s toes tapping.
Half ‘n’ Half is at the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Until October 18. Tickets range from £10-14. Ffresh Bar & Restaurant is also offering a pre-show curry with half ‘n’ half (chips and rice) and naan bread for £4.
Written by TIM RILEY
Produced by TINDERBOX ALLEY
Director: VIK SIVALINGAM
Composer: TIM RILEY
Musical Director: GARETH GRIFFITHS
Dramaturg: DAVID COTTIS