WEEK 53: Nigel Slater’s TOAST – Volunteer Review

Sam Newton, Lizzie Muncey,Toast at The Lowry 2018 (Photo Credit The Other Richard) 4

 

Have you ever been to see a show at the theatre and thought to yourself, “I wonder what the staff thought of that?”

Here at The Lowry we host a wide range of shows from musicals to drama, comedy to opera. Week 53 is The Lowry’s festival for the compulsively curious and we invited some of our contemporary ambassador staff to let us know what they think of the programme.

Anne usually works as a volunteer, but he was our Week 53 reviewer and his subject was Nigel Slater’s Toast.

Over to you Anne…

It is always a challenge to any director to adapt a best selling book into a stage play and Henry Filloux-Bennett has succeeded in capturing the zeitgeist of the sixties in this production. Childhood memories of love and loss, as well as discovering his own sexuality, are evoked by food, it’s ingredients.

The set is Wolverhampton early sixties with pop music taking over from skiffle , in an enclosed area behind the main stage in the Lyric theatre, with seating on three sides. A wall of flat kitchen units ,complete with retro fridge, is the main backdrop with 2 mobile islands on castors which are used as a dance floor and add movement and pace to the show. The use of overhead cables to drop utensils down free the set from the clutter of pans are very effective and the dazzling cakes etc which emerge from the cupboards are wonderful. The strong smell of Toast being made greets you and this was Nigel’s childhood favourite food.

Nigel progresses from a boy in short trousers in the first half, happy but becoming aware of his mother deteriorating health and they bonded over recipes, partly spurred on by her concern that he should be able to cook for himself when she died.

In the second half he is in long trousers, his work shattered by her death  and food became the battlefield in the competition between him and his stepmother for his fathers attention.He found refuge from the isolated house in the kitchen at a local pub, was given a chance to go to London after his fathers early death and never looked back.

This is an immersive production, with food sampling and the ubiquitous walnut whip given to all, and a special mention must be given to Sam Newton, who has an uncanny likeness of the young Nigel , and a terrific performance from Lizzie Muncey who plays four roles, including his mother. It is on all week and is a great show, whether you are a foodie or not.

 

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