Cardiff’s first ever ‘curry musical’, Half ‘n’ Half, will premiere at Wales Millennium Centre this month (October 12-18), celebrating the Great British Curry and the people who make it.
Written by Cardiff-based writer and composer Tim Riley, Half ‘n’ Half is set in the Taj Mahal, a fictional restaurant on Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, in 1987.
Ali, the boss, is ready to retire to his native Bangladesh, but he faces a dilemma – who should take over the business? His nephew Khan, from Sylhet, or Rafiq, the streetwise head waiter? But trouble appears with the arrival of Mr Bajar, the self-proclaimed Balti King from Birmingham, with a taste for a takeover.
Hotter than a Vindaloo and cooler than a Korma, this funny, fast-paced and colourful show explores the layers of cultural identity – Asian, Bangladeshi, British, Welsh – which are specific to Cardiff but resonate with communities across the UK. The title of the play too, reflects this fusion of Welsh and Asian cultures.
Director Vik Sivalingam explains: “In Cardiff there is this new hybrid culture that’s been created through the way food is presented, having your curry with chips and rice – they’ve brought two cultures into specific harmony.”
Half ‘n’ Half is full of original songs that draw on Western, Bollywood, and South Asian folk music influences and boasts a fantastic cast of actors including Cardiff’s very own Boyd Clack.
To research the show, Tim helped out in the kitchens of The Cinnamon Tree restaurant in Cardiff, where he got to know the staff and their stories (and ate a lot of curry!). A research and development phase followed, at the end of which a rough version of the show was performed upstairs at The Cinnamon Tree – the first time a musical has been staged in a curry house.
Additionally, workshops with young people from communities in Butetown and Grangetown were held at the start of this year in which they shared their experiences of cultural fusion, food and family, and developed their storytelling and singing skills. Their stories inspired Tim to write a song called ‘Home’ that is now part of the musical.
Half ‘n’ Half is produced by Tinderbox Alley in association with Wales Millennium Centre and is supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
Half ‘n’ Half is at the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, from 12-18 October 2015. Tickets range from £10-14. Age guidance 8+.
To celebrate National Curry Week (12-18 October), ffres Bar & Restaurant is offering a pre-show curry with half ‘n’ half (chips and rice) and naan bread for £4.
For more information and to book tickets visit www.wmc.org.uk or call 029 2063 6464.