Nigel Slater’s Toast is a piece of buttered nostalgia, a familial trip into the plethora of experiences that Nigel associates with food. It’s more than character Nigel's—a show-stealing performance from Sam Newton—future career as a chef, or author Nigel Slater’s current career as a food columnist. Henry Filloux-Bennett’s script is expertly interpreted by director Jonnie Riordan to bring life to the love and tenderness, pain and anger in this story.
Food, unsurprisingly, is used to signal important moment's in the young Nigel's life. The smell of toasting bread is togetherness with his mum—a fragile and fresh Lizzie Muncey—while strawberries and cream represent increasing distance from his dad—a convincingly old-fashioned Mark Fleischmann.
Libby Watson makes retro seem fresh in her design - orange and beige hues mimic the warming subtlety of Zoe Spurr’s lighting. And Riordan’s vision comes to life through more than the visual – Nigel Slater’s Toast is a total sensory experience. Walnut Whips and lemon meringue pies, distributed among the audience, are sweet treats tinged with bitterness and conflict. In each mouthful, Riordan brings to life all those moments where Nigel’s youthful glee slowly slips away.
Despite a sprinkling of schmaltz and some muddled scene changes, Nigel Slater’s Toast emphasises the evocative power of taste and smell. In the end, it’s the heartaches and losses that kickstart Nigel’s future. Such a passionate production has a deliciously sweet conclusion.