Review: Nigel Slater’s Toast @ Northern Stage

Image: (L-R) Giles Cooper, Katy Federman – photo credit Piers Foley.jpg

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As I am waiting in Northern Stage, ready for the show to start and all I can smell is Toast. And I immediately think of that time my brother put the toaster on to get the cat in the house (my cat loves butter) and the kitchen smelt of burnt toast.

It’s interesting to see how food holds those kinds of memories in not only our lives but in Nigel Slaters.  Toast tells the story of Slater’s childhood through the touch, taste and smells of food that he shares with his Mother and Father.

The production is set in the kitchen and when the story takes us to another place, the cast members cleverly pull out draws, cupboards and numerous other kitchen related props to create another dimension in the story.

Giles Cooper playing Nigel has this Padding Bear quality about him, he is a sweet kind-hearted generous little boy- his mannerism and tone of voice mirror that of the much-loved Bear.

And his Mum played by Katy Federman is that classic 60’s mother, always in the kitchen cooking pleasing her son. I fall in love with the relationship between Nigel and his Mother and it isn’t till later on in the story that we realise how important that is.

There is a moment in the performance where they are stood on the draws in an embrace, whilst the rest of the cast move them around to make it look like they are dancing whilst La mer plays on Vinyl in the background. And that scene is so beautiful to watch, we understand how strong that bond is between them.

I enjoy the way Director and Choreographer Jonnie Riordan, creates little motifs/ gestures to add interest and character to the production. Particularly in the scene where Nigel and his school friends try a pick and mix of sweets (at which the audience gets to try) and their reactions to it being sweet or sour is performed through dance.

Yes, the audience gets to try little treats for themselves one of which being a Walnut Whip which holds a strong memory in Nigel’s life.  I have never had a Walnut Whip before but boy do I love them now. I learn from Nigel’s Dad played by Blair Plant that you eat them by eating off the walnut on the top and licking the whipped cream/marshmallow-like texture with your tongue.

Toast is a sensory overload that fills your heart, mind and stomach with cosy home comforts and warm memories of food and family.

For more information about Toast click here

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