Frozen Peas in an Old Tin Can (at The Way Theatre)…

is a great name for a play. And I thought this the first time I saw this production back in a pub cellar, back in 2019, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe.

But we’ll get to that.

I’ve been an honorary Manc for just turned 23 years now, but try as I might, I haven’t been everywhere in Greater Manchester yet.

Well now I’ve been to Leigh, so I’m getting there. And what a brilliant introduction to the town with a visit to The Way Theatre, which resides in Spinners Mill, a creative space which. from observations as I climbed and climbed (and climbed) the stairs to the 4th floor (honestly, more stairs that it sounds) plays host to a number of indie businesses and artistic platforms.

Love me a new venue, and as mentioned, I first saw this production in a pub cellar in Salford, after the original intention of the pub beer garden was scuppered by rain.

Written and directed by Joseph Walsh, I understood that this revival brought to the table a brand new cast, sound and set designer, and would I like to see it?

Yes, yes I would. For I really enjoyed the production the first time. In fact, drumroll for a meta moment when on my way out, I espied a flyer with previous review quotes from me, and then me again.

So let’s get some more going.

The setting to the story is three homeless people, bound and bonded by their shared circumstances, each with a different journey to this, their current destination.

Frozen Peas in an Old Tin Can tells the story of Sarah (Lula Marsh), Derek (Will Travis) and Barney (Kyle Rowe), who all live on the streets of Manchester together, sharing one thing in common – they are homeless. They pass their days collecting McDonald’s vouchers on the back of bus tickets, when one day it all changes.

Along with Hope Yolanda, who seamlessly and rapidly (impressive hair and costume changes) takes on multiple parts as old school friend, GTV news reporter, sister…this is a cast who each brings spark, energy, emotion and delicious timing to the writer’s lines and back and forth dialogue, which is gloriously steeped in mancunian wit, references and repartee.

With one common goal – a trip to Southport (and why not, happy times spent in that little jewel of the North West), the three decide to put on a benefit gig (well, benefitting themselves – fair dos), as each brings their own ‘unique’ talent to proceedings. When word spreads, they each unexpectedly find themselves in the spotlight and with their 15 minutes beckoning, we gain insight into the source of their individual ‘sadnesses’ and situations.

The themes are wide-ranging and uncompromising, taking in death and loss, suicide, poverty and homelessness. And it’s a difficult balance to cover such subjects with dark humour, as you walk a tightrope between keeping the audience entertained and prompting laugh out loud moments (yes, I ‘lolled’ again) whilst at the same time adding on layers to your characters, and insight into their stories, as you build empathy.

It’s a play with heart. And incredible talent. Some years ago, I attended a live-streamed production of Macbeth, at Manchester International Festival. And as I sat eating my sausage roll, cross-legged in a car park near Piccadilly (look, it’s MiF, don’t ask, just accept), I was left open-mouthed as I saw Sir Kenneth Branagh deliver a hauntingly moving soliloquy, and marvelled as his eyes filled with tears, and watched as a single tear cascaded down the knight of the realm’s cheek, on cue and almost in slow motion. I’m actually not kidding.

It is a moment that lives rent free in my head, and as glib as my recounting may sound, last night I genuinely went back to that moment as actor Will Travis took us on a similar journey in a tear stained monologue which gave Kenny a run for his money.

So before, I get even more carried away, let’s get down to brass tacks as to why you should go and see this production:

  • the comic timing and one-liners
  • the messaging
  • the ‘kitchen-sink’ undertones (almost ironic given the setting)
  • the clever use of sound and space to create a very real and three-dimensional world in a small theatre in an old mill in Leigh
  • the Manchester and Salford of it all
  • the sheer heart and talent

I’ve avoided the temptation to revisit my original review so at this time, I’m not sure whether the same premise and writer has brought similar reflections from me, or brand new insights. I would hope both because for those who have seen the production before, there are updates and adaptations to the original story, and there is as much to enjoy as there was the first time round.

So whether this is your first rodeo or not, go and support the glory, talent and wonder of fringe theatre, and all that makes it special, and head over to Leigh to grab a chance to see Frozen Peas in an Old Tin Can at The Way Theatre – on until this Sunday 7 May. More details can be found here on their Facebook page

And lest we forget one of the main themes and stories behind this production, you can donate to Homeless Aid UK and find out more about the wonderful work they do, by visiting .

Cast and Crew:

  • Will Travis – Derek
  • Lula Marsh – Sarah
  • Kyle Rowe – Barney
  • Hope Yolanda -Multi-role
  • Joseph Walsh – Writer and Director
  • Eleanor Ferguson – Set Designer
  • Ella Fraser – Producer
  • Ellie Holt – Lighting Designer
  • Erin Lee-Smith – Sound Designer
  • Laila Khan – Stage Manager

Original musings: Review: Frozen Peas in an Old Tin Can (Greater Manchester Fringe)

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