A rustling sound runs round the Traverse Theatre during Henry Filloux-Bennett’s adaptation of cookery expert Nigel Slater’s autobiography “Toast”.

It’s the sound of an audience simultaneously opening the chocolate cream whip we have been given and told by Nigel’s Dad to start eating, carefully following Nigel’s instructions to roll our tongues around the cream.

This is after enjoying a lemon meringue tart baked by Mrs Potter.

If the way to an audience‘s heart is through the stomach then “Toast” has the fast track. Sam Newton is vulnerable and appealing as the knobbly-kneed schoolboy Nigel carrying the weight of this play in a virtually non stop monologue.

Other characters speak but their utterances merely reinforce the events as seen through Nigel’s eyes. Mum (Lizzie Muncey) is sweet and nurturing but tragically doomed. Dad (Mark Fleischmann) is an opinionated martinet who knows what’s right, even down to which sweets are girly and which are eaten by boys. There is an undertow of father/son clash over young Nigel’s interest in cookery and generally gentle approach to life.

The lino clad floor of Libby Watson‘s stage set is pure 60s as are the freestanding kitchen units, which roll around the stage in a multitude of uses. There is a veritable roll call of 60s references, and a hilarious scene where spaghetti bolognese is approached as a foreign curiosity. When the hated Joan Potter appears in Nigel’s life, the competitive cooking commences, culminating in Joan‘s definitive lemon meringue pie.

This is a sweet, feel good play. We leave the theatre to the tantalising smell of mushrooms frying. It can only raise your spirits and make you rush home to bake some jam tarts.

Traverse Theatre until August 26th


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