Chicken Burger and Dreams at Brixton House

Gamba Cole as Corey

TD Moyo, the director of chicken burger n chips, now playing at Brixton House, describes it as a love letter to Black men. It is certainly that. But it is not sentimental. Capturing the joy, innocence and dreams of 18 year old Corey, as he awaits his A level results, it does not shy away from the realities of life in Lewisham for a young Black man. It is a funny, touching but realistic glimpse into the mind and hopes of a young man on the threshold of adulthood in a world that is rapidly changing.

As a one-person show, chicken burger n chips is inevitably a dramatic challenge. But Gamba Cole is more than up to the task. He gets and keeps the attention of the audience as he brings Corey Bovell’s deft script to life with energy, grace and humour. Moving easily from chat, to rap, to dance, he demonstrates a real talent for physical humour and a fine sense of pacing. 

After leaving school, young Corey is content to hang out with his friends in a chicken burger joint. Gamba Cole brims with youthful joy as he recreates the characters and scenes from Corey’s family and neighbourhood. His first meeting with Jodie is at once hilarious and touching. 

But this is no rose-tinted view of life. The fears, anxieties and obstacles facing young Black men from working class neighbourhoods are never far away. Poverty, crime, violence and teenage gangland boundaries are the backdrop to Corey’s coming of age, as he struggles to define his dreams and plan his future. As one of his friends tells him “this world wasn’t designed for us to succeed…. we’re living in an uneven society.”

 And just as Corey’s life is changing, so too is his world. The Lewisham he knows and loves is gradually being destroyed and rebuilt by the forces of gentrification and commercialisation. Corey has to abandon his childhood in the same way that he has to say goodbye to Ladywell Baths as it is torn down, to be replaced, no doubt, with a block of luxury apartments.

The play is in so many ways, about dreams, and the struggle to achieve them. As Corey gradually leaves the comfortable anchors of his life in Lewisham to pursue a new life, he understands only too well that “he cannot discover new oceans unless he loses sight of the shore”.

But it is also about overcoming obstacles and finding the courage to face the world as it is. This is ultimately an upbeat and positive story. It is genuinely funny, occasionally moving and often joyful. Despite his setbacks, we can leave the theatre feeling confident and thankful that Corey will prosper.

chicken burger n chips runs until 11 February in Brixton House, Coldharbour Lane.

Go and see it if you can.

Tickets: £21, £17 concessions. For further information call 020 7582 7680 or go to