Reviewed by Lisa Cook
Wow – Just Wow!
This is an amazing show, if you haven’t seen it, book now to go and see it, you will not be disappointed!
Last night, I had a great opportunity to take my mum to the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield. What a fantastic experience it was! I must point out, we had never been here before, yet we were both of the same opinion. What a fantastic place to go! The Pomegranate Theatre is relatively small, seating approximately 550 people (compared to Sheffield’s Lyceum seating over a thousand) and its easily accessible for those in wheelchairs. There are lots of reasonably priced council carparks very close by. The theatre itself is a beautiful Grade II-listed Victorian building. It is clean and tidy, has a small bar for interval drinks and very helpful staff.
So, what’s the show about? You might ask. Surely it can’t just be about Toast, can it? In reply, it’s about the coming of age of the famous BBC television presenter, food columnist and in his words amateur cook Nigel Slater. It highlights his experiences and is told mainly through the eyes of a 9-year-old boy.
Nigel’s memoir Toast – The story of a boy’s hunger, won six major awards and has been translated in to five different languages. The play has been written by Henry Filloux-Bennett and began its stage life at the Lowry in Salford.
The story is brought to life by a small cast of very talented actors, playing the parts of various colourful characters. The scenery itself is relatively simple, yet very effective with the use of wheels. For the most part, your typical kitchen. The dance routines that are used to change the scenery are fantastic, along with the music throughout the show. The costumes are great and help distinguish the different characters.
The first character we meet is the 9-year-old Nigel, wearing his school shorts and intent on reading the one and only cookbook from the ‘library’. This is played by the very talented Giles Cooper (you may recognise him from Hollyoaks). Nigel’s mum is a loving warm parent, who isn’t very good at most things, but makes up for this by tucking Nigel into bed every night (played by Katy Federman). His father is the busy man who finds parenting awkward and leaves most things to his wife (Blair Plant who’s had roles in Coronation Street and Emmerdale to mention a couple). Then there is Joan (Samantha Hopkins), who is nothing like mummy. She’s obsessed with pledge and smoking and the weekly battle for Dad’s attention. Finally, Josh the ever so handsome gardener that mummy quiet likes (Stefan Edwards). All the actors except Giles, skilfully play the parts of other characters along the way, with incredible accents.
The first act starts with Nigel aged 9, in the kitchen, narrating the story himself. He’s making his favourite tarts with Mummy. You can tell right from the beginning the warm relationship that the two of them share. Although Nigel is somewhat bemused by his mum’s reluctance to use a recipe. He also states that his ‘mother burns toast as surely as the sun rises each morning. In fact, I doubt if she has ever made a round of toast in her life that failed to fill the kitchen with plumes of throat catching smoke.’ The whole act relates to Nigel’s love of food for the comfort it brings him, along with the fabulous smells that he lists in his notebook. I was filled with happy warm memories from my childhood. However, it becomes clear that mother isn’t expecting a baby and she is in fact, rather poorly. She even must sit down and rest at times. This gives Nigel his first chance at icing the Christmas cake.
The second act certainly produces a different atmosphere now that things have changed. It’s no longer a warm, loving home. Dad is struggling and so begins a new chapter in his life. This of course has massive repercussions for Nigel and affects the way the rest of his life will map out.
In general, this is a GREAT show, its unique in the way it is portrayed. The actors are amazing and able to bring out lots of different emotions within. If you haven’t already seen it, I would if I were you.
I would definitely recommend!
Tickets cost from £18.90 to £28.90 (booking fees may apply).
Nigel Slater’s Toast is at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield from 26-30 November 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk or call the box office 01246 345 222.
Pomegranate Theatre, Corporation Street, Chesterfield, S41 7TX | 01246 345 222