Wednesday, 2 October 2019

NIGEL SLATER'S TOAST


I love cook books and prefer reading them over fiction, I have a stack by the side of my bed. I wouldn't however consider myself a 'foodie' and often stray from a recipe, using them as guidance and inspiration rather than gospel. I guess after watching the stage adaptation of Nigel Slater's Toast last night, it's something I have in common with his mother. 

“It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you.” Says Nigel Slater in his memoir, and as we walked into the Malvern Festival Theatre, the smell of nearly-burned toast made us feel quite fuzzy and nostalgic, although in my house that aroma is usually accompanied by the sound of the over zealous fire alarm!

Toast is the most beautifully written memoir, and I must admit to being somewhat sceptical about it being brought to life on the stage, especially with an adult playing young Nigel, complete with short trousers as I'm really not keen on an adult playing a child on stage as it always feels quite weird to me but Giles Cooper led the narrative with a mixture of wit, pathos and absurdity on occasion too!

Of course the thread that weaves the story together is food - preparing, eating it, enjoying it - and director Jonnie Riordan has done the most wonderful job of adding an interactive element to the production which acts as a device to make the audience feel like part of the show, even mischievous when sweets are passed around the stalls and the ensuing 'naughty' rustling of wrappers as they are scoffed. I had a rhubarb and custard boiled sweet and was instantly transported back to my childhood. 

The character of Joan, played by Samantha Hopkins, was for me the best, with a cracking Wolverhampton dialect, sixties fashion and chain smoking, she had something of a Joan Holloway from Mad Men feel about her. She is, however, the baddy of the play, competing with Nigel for the affections of his widowed father, which culminated in the ultimate bake off. 

Having sons, it felt close to home, uncomfortably at times, especially with the passing of Nigel's mother. The mother we all aspire to be, adored by your children. I thought of the times I cook with the boys and I hope that I have given the same fond memories to my children as Nigel had of his mother. 

I would give Toast ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ perfect entertainment for an autumn evening and as nostalgic as home made apple pie and bird's custard. 

Thank you to the Malvern Theatre who gifted me two tickets to their beautiful theatre. All thoughts and opinions in this review are entirely my own. 

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