STAGE REVIEW: Toast @ Northern Stage, Newcastle (17.09.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: (L-R) Blair Plant, Stefan Edwards, Giles Cooper, Samantha Hopkins, Katy Federman by Piers Foley

Toast is at Northern Stage, Newcastle until Saturday 21st September

“How can you not love someone that makes you toast?”

Based on the British Book Awards Biography of the Year, Northern Stage hosts the North East premiere of Nigel Slater’s Toast.

Toast is the story of chef Nigel Slater’s childhood through smells, flavours and sensations in the 1960s, but we don’t only hear and see these memories, we experience them too. From entering a theatre filled with the strong smell of toast (though I can’t be sure if this was something to do with the slight technical difficulties that delayed the show briefly), to being invited to taste the flavours and experience the smells of Nigel’s childhood. Toffees, parma violets, chocolate eclairs, sherbert lemons and his dad’s all important walnut whip bring his memories to life amidst moments of slapstick comedy, dance and often self-aware dialogue.

From making the perfect sherry trifle, waging war over gigantic cakes, through to the rigid rules of restaurant dining, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and…toast. But at the heart of the story is Nigel’s relationships with both food and his mother, which are given equal footing and are inextricably linked. Nigel’s mother isn’t a natural chef, but bakes and cooks to spend time with him, and her methods of ‘baking to suit your own taste’ and measuring by ‘more or less’ become more like life mantras than recipe instructions for young Nigel.

Huge kudos has to go to Giles Cooper for capturing the idiosyncratic speaking style of Nigel Slater, and for stirring up not only his childhood passion for food, but for inspiring the audience to remember their own childhood favourites with his energy and enthusiasm.

Experiencing Toast is like seeing a West End play from the comfort of your own backyard – and I’d definitely recommend you make the trip to see it. Your heart will be warmed, and your appetite will be whetted.

Feeling hungry yet?

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