a bright and cheerful coming of age story that engages the audience with shared eating experiences and plenty of laughs
Nigel Slater’s Toast is a tale about food, cookery books and share a young boy’s self-discovery in terms of who he is in the world, his sexuality and his family. It is a bright and cheerful coming of age story that engages the audience with shared eating experiences and plenty of laughs, as well as poignant moments of sadness which show how much food fills more than our plates or stomachs, but also our hearts and memories.
The first half was something of a slow burner and prepared all the ingredients for a satisfying production, showing how Nigel’s love of food and cooking came from his mother. Most of us learnt to cook from our parents, typically our mother and Nigel’s mother is no different, a patient warm teacher who prepares Nigel not only for food but also for life. Nigel’s mother, played by Lizzie Muncey, is a hugely vital ingredient in young Nigel’s life. Not only teaching him how to cook, but also teaching him to appreciate food and how to be free from recipes, giving him the skills to live life on his own terms.
Giles Cooper plays a young Nigel from the ages of nine to 17 throughout the show, giving an earnest performance that is sometimes too detached from the other characters in his mission of telling the audience his story. However, I think this sense of detachment honestly reflected how a child would feel at losing important parts of himself in his childhood. There was a true sense of no control over everything in his life, especially in relation to his father. Nigel’s father, ardently played by Stephen Ventura, is a marvellous character and although at times I winced at his actions or wanted to berate him, I found myself full of sympathy and understanding for this man who is a traditional family man who does the best he knows how.
heart-warming, honest and quite a delight
There were charming moments where the audience are actively participating with the play, not only with the humour but eating with the characters and smelling Nigel’s cooking onstage. These elements sprinkled throughout the second half of the play were funny and turned the play into less of a traditional viewing experience but more into an active story telling show that captured all of our five senses; sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.
I would recommend this play for all to see, its heart-warming, honest and quite a delight.
NEED TO KNOW: Toast is at The Other Palace Theatre 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA | BOOK TICKETS NOW