Toast (UK Tour), Richmond Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Richmond Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 21st October 2019 by Glenys Balchin
On press night, Toast started a little late and I was tapping my toes waiting for it to being, however, this became inconsequential once I spotted Nigel Slater in the audience. This was certainly an added bonus! I would love to ask him what he thinks about seeing his life being played out on the stage at Richmond Theatre, it must be a very surreal experience.

Anyway, back to the play, I loved the simple stylised approach of the story telling, scenery and the lighting which was very atmospheric. Although, I was not sure at first about the young Nigel being played by a man wearing shorts, but as the play progressed I became convinced that the actor was looking through the eyes of a nine year old boy and it worked for me.  The actors were flawless in the systematic approach of changing from scene to scene. The cast were versatile  switching   from one character to another.  I was most impressed that a play with such a big story to tell, with so many underlining themes, was delivered with such a small cast and the action on stage was kept fluid at all times

The mum played by Katy Federman  was the star of the show for me, though I don’t know whether it was her acting skills I enjoyed the most or that character that  she portrayed. A most loving and nurturing mum protecting her son from the realities of life. 

 Nigel played by Giles Cooper told the story well and showed no difficulty, or hesitation changing from being the narrator, to then playing his character.  He drew us into his world and breathed life into the other actor's characters portrayed on stage.

As the story unravelled you were saddened at the loss for Nigel, of both parents, but enlightened that his Mother’s unconditional love drove him on to be the man he became.  For me the early life of Nigel evoked a lot of beautiful memories from the cooking with mum in the kitchen , jam tarts, spagbol and the sweets, angel delight, ballroom dancing lessons in the kitchen and the ritual of sitting around the table as a family.
My mum’s cooking, as was Nigel’s, was always made with lots of love, but she too was certainly no Marguerite Patten. I do, however, fondly remember my Mum’s splodge trifle! Watching the play has made me want to read Nigel’s autobiography and taste again all those 60s and 70’s treats again- Angel Delight being one of them!  I loved the storyline and the tale it told and it was well executed by the cast and I would definitely recommend others to go and experience Toast.
However, my words alone do not resonate the success of the play as well as Nigel Slater giving a standing ovation, a very high accolade indeed and one that the actors should be proud of.
photo credit: Piers Foley