Sex, Chips & Rock'n'Roll, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

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The Independent Culture

Debbie Horsfield's TV series, which told the story of the twin sisters Arden and Ellie Brookes, whose lives were rocked and whose hearts were melted by the rock trio The Ice Cubes, has been turned into a stage musical. Co-written by Horsfield and the former Flying Picket Hereward Kaye, it's presented successfully in the round. Under Jonathan Moore's capable direction, Sex, Chips & Rock'n'Roll is decently dramatised, neatly choreographed, well sung and a lot of fun.

Arden (Elaine Glover) is the wild one - "going past Crewe and Macclesfield, all the way to Piccadilly" in her teenage passions - while Ellie (Emma Williams) is more romantically inclined. Arden is set on sex and marriage, while Ellie wants to go to university. But their starchy mother's motto "'I want' doesn't get" isn't as much the deterrent to her dreams as is the engagement she is more or less forced into by the staid local fish-and-chip-shop proprietor. He regards the ring as a "tag" on his fiancée and visualises her not poring over books but pouring tea from a hostess trolley.

As Ellie is lifted into her wedding dress - as if it were a straitjacket - the sisters reveal their reasons for needing to be married. This is the north, after all, where a rigid and superficial moral code dictated people's lives.

Into this slightly sentimental saga is woven the rise of The Ice Cubes straight to No 7 in the charts (with words by Ellie), and from the scudding clouds and chimney stacks of Eccles, we're parachuted into the swirling society of psychedelic London. Although Ellie has got out of the frying-pan, she's soon back in the fire, reunited with her awful husband.

The story may be a bit flimsy, and the characterisation broad, but there are extremely funny moments in this show. One is the arrival of the mobile chippy to the strains of "The Ride of the Valkyries", accompanied by a clutch of fish-hungry war-maidens - a brilliant stroke.

A six-piece band above the stage plays original music, borrowing from the sound-world of the early Kinks and the beginnings of The Who, bringing back nostalgic memories of teenage dreams and misspent youth.

To 6 August (0161-833 9833)

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