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Nigel Slater’s Toast
30th September 2019 - 5th October 2019
PW Productions and Karl Sydow present the Lowry Production of
Nigel Slater’s Toast
DIRECT FROM THE WEST END…
Toast vividly recreates Nigel Slater’s childhood through the tastes and smells he shares with his mother, culminating in the young Nigel’s escape to London. From making the perfect sherry trifle, through the playground politics of sweets, the rigid rules of restaurant dining, and a domestic war over cakes, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and…toast.
★★★★★ “The show rises like a good soufflé” Mail on Sunday
★★★★ “Only those of the sourest disposition would not love this bitter-sweet show” Independent
★★★★ “A show you can literally taste…foodies and non-foodies alike are well served. Tuck in!” Telegraph
★★★★ “Food’s nostalgic power is captured with mouth-watering success in this poignant staging of the popular memoir” The Guardian
Running time: approx. 2 hours 10 minutes, including interval.
Production photographs by Simon Annand
Went on Thursday. A poor house - those of you who didn't go missed a treat. A brilliant 5 hander, funny, poignant, excellent performances especially "Nigel". One of the best pieces of theatre we've seen lately. Go - you'll love it.
Brilliantly acted, moving and funny. Definitely 5 stars in every way. Love, love, loved it!!!
A thoroughly enjoyable show. You must go and see it. If you like Nigel Slater ,enjoy his books and tv work this show is for you.
I saw toast last night and it was everything I expected and more ! Hugely evocative of the 60's and 70's along with some very local connections .With great music it was funny and moving . I want to go again !!
Loved it, bitter sweet with hidden extras.....
Trelawney of the Wells
It's a challenge to make a relatively small-scale show with a cast of just four communicate across the wide-open spaces of the Festival Theatre, but by Act 2 'Toast' had achieved it. Funny, moving and imaginatively staged, even if you know next to nothing about Mr Slater early life, this is well worth seeing. Some of the dance/movement numbers go on for too long, but the sound is generally excellent and adds to the atmosphere (though quite what was happening in the interval is anybody's guess: music and what sounded like period adverts laid on top of each other in a cacophonous mess - shame). But the free Walnut Whip almost made up for it...
Choice Radio Worcester
Toast is a depiction of Nigel Slater's younger days, adapted by Henry Filloux-Bennett from the chef's book "Toast - the story of a boy's hunger".
But to avoid the staging of an autobiographical book being itself as dry as the toast of the title it needs something to make it a standout event and this show has it in spades. From the moment you enter the auditorium, you are hit with the smell of cooking - well, toast actually - a trick which many a supermarket and house seller uses to attract a punter's interest. And the action all takes place in a gigantic kitchen with plenty of cupboards, work surfaces and an Aga, the environment so central to Slater's upbringing and his relationship with this mother and all of which serve a purpose during the show.
Covering the period from the age of nine until his late teens, this was a traumatic and disruptive time for the boy, played here with superb empathy by Giles Cooper who, at 37 does an amazingly convincing job at portraying a nine-year old and uses the opportunity to talk directly to the audience to great effect as well as playing the part of a loving but confused son within an increasingly fractured small family unit.
There is an element here which is of particular interest to the local audience as, although born in Wolverhampton, circumstances dictated that he would spend some of his formative years living in Martley and, more specifically, educated at the Chantry School. These are included in the show, particularly the school's cookery class and indeed it was in this part of Worcestershire that he discovered what people get up to in cars in a local car park...
Like many children, Slater's introduction to cooking and cookery comes from his mother (as well as cookery goddess Marguerite Patten!) and Katy Feldman plays her well, enthusiastic and yet trying to conceal from her son the failing health which would take her when Slater was just nine. His relationship with his father (Blair Plant) ran a rocky course, unable to really understand his son's obsessions, forcing him to eat eggs which he detests and calling him a nancy boy just because of his preferred choice of sweets (which were classed as either for boys or for girls). He was also somewhat less than impressed to find gardener Josh (Stefan Edwards) drying off his naked body in front of his son (who certainty didn't object) and promptly sacks him in favour of an older less threatening gentleman.
Cooking obviously plays a major role in Slater's upbringing and later life but also here serves to demonstrate the alienation which he feels, for whilst making jam tarts is a source of comfort and joy when doing it with his mother, it becomes an increasingly bitter battle of wills when it comes to his "Auntie" (later step-mum) Joan (Samantha Hopkins, with a wonderful Black Country accent). And with cooking central to the plot, it obviously has to be included in the show - this is very cleverly done with some Blue Peter-type "here's one I made earlier" routines which turns the newly-sifted flour into delicious tarts in just few quick steps. If only! Equally, his dad's attempts at making a new-fangled thing called Spaghetti Bolognese is hilarious. But to even things out, there is some real cooking at the end of the show and there is mention throughout of foods of that era, including that one-time sophisticated desert, Angel Delight (butterscotch, obviously!)
Maybe unexpectedly, there is song and dance is the show too - it starts with, for example, Carole King's "I feel the earth move" and the evocative music gives the cast an opportunity to spread their wings into some amusing fantasy dance sequences, including one danced to "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads.
It's clear that Slater had very much a bitter sweet childhood but as the budding young cook says in the show, “It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you.” And thankfully it's impossible to not love Toast too.
Definitely worth a trip to the theatre, and not just for the free food…!
A brilliant show, the smell of Toast as you entered the auditorium. A cast of only four people who made this lively, funny and evocative of the era. Sweets and chocolates passed around what a treat.
Unbelievably the theatre was about half full, this was a show not to be missed
Full of fun and yet very moving.
You must see this.
We saw it in London and will go again.