Toast – UK Tour

“It’s impossible to not love someone who makes toast for you”

How do you take a non-linear narrative that’s broken up into about 100 memories, tastes, smells and stories and turn it into something that belongs on the stage?  This was the question that would eventually produce an exciting new production showcasing the life of one of our favourite television personalities.

Toast is a passionate first person account of the childhood of TV chef, writer and celebrity, Nigel Slater.  It focuses on his early memories of a gastronomic upbringing, learning to make luxurious jam tarts with mum aged 9, memorising the recipe to the perfect mince pie and learning that porridge has an exact 3 minute perfect consumption window.

This multi-sensory production written by Henry Filloux-Bennet, and brought cleverly to life by Jonnie Riordan, introduces us to an innocent 9 year old Slater, still firmly tied to his mothers apron strings in the early 50s.  The production’s narrative is brought to us direct through 9 year old Nigel’s first hand account of his youth, breaking down the 4th wall to deliver an emotional retelling of his introduction, and later passion for food.

The production team went to exceptional lengths to invigorate the senses and engage the audience from the moment you enter the auditorium, from an unforgettable aroma of burnt toast to the promise of tasty sweet treats throughout the performance.

Nigel, played by the exceptionally talented Giles Cooper, delivers an emotionally touching performance, exploring the relationship he has with his asthmatic mother and tempestuously traditional father. The tenderness displayed in watching the mother and son cook, stirred up many personal emotions and memories and this is where the production encouraged the audience to reminisce and allow themselves to be transported to the ‘Good Old Days’.

Nigel’s Mum, passionately played by Katy Fenderman, depicts the balance between loving mother and dutiful housewife and her own personal struggles. This was simply a joy to watch. She had the ability to multi-role various other important characters throughout the piece with ease and versatility.

A delicious culinary rivalry was revealed with Nigel’s stepmother Joan, played by Samantha Hopkins, was set comically to the backdrop of talking heads ‘Psycho Killer’.

The set was simplified yet effective and allowed the actors to make wonderful use of the moving units in both the scene transitions and the superbly stylised choreography. A stand out moment was a tender waltz shared between mother and son whilst being gently wheeled around the stage by the ensemble actors.

The personal highlight for me was the moment Nigel cooks garlic mushrooms on toast in real time, filling the auditorium with stomach rumbling aromas and sending the audience home extremely hungry for more.

Toast plays at the Crewe Lyceum until the 7th of December, before finally hanging its apron up on their national tour, so don’t miss the opportunity to catch it.

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