Ria Zmitrowicz (Kirsty) does a drunk 16 year old really well: arms waving furiously, chest stuck out and a voice between sing-song and whine. Young, naive and optimistic, she will do whatever it takes to go to university and get a better life, no matter what her teachers say. Joe (Theo Barklem-Biggs) is more laid-back, warm and sympathetic. He would be labelled as lazy scum by the Daily Mail and he knows it, but he is totally disillusioned. While he recognises that he should probably take a boring service job, he thinks that would be soul destroying and wishes he could really achieve something with his life.
While Chapel Street is commendable for these wholly convincing and honest young characters, what makes it so powerful is that key issues of contemporary society aren’t shoved in your face but emerge between the lines and bubble away in your subconscious. The protagonists' lives are bounded by enduring class prejudice, the shadow of war, paedophilia and teenage pregnancy, the true weight of which can’t be felt in their drunken state but lurks in the background. Weirdly, the result is a strange sense of optimism – no matter the obstacles, Kirsty and Joe’s energy cannot, will not, falter.