- October 31, 2019
Loved the book, enjoyed the film but neither could have prepared me for how much I would enjoy the stage play. Nigel Slater’s part fictionalised autobiographical book is a revealing bitter sweet story of familial love, tragedy and anger – peppered of course with a burgeoning passion for food and a sexual awakening. Tall order you might think for anyone to dramatise. Henry Filloux-Bennett manages to deliver the mood and the story with a deft hand. Using beautifully choreographed movement and humour, a cast of multi-role playing actors and a simple but well conceived and realised set he does just that. There is a clarity to the whole that makes the evening fly by in a delicious whirl, or should I say whip as in walnut?
Full marks to the entire company who create all of the roles around the growing Nigel. Katy Federman’s portrayal of Mum is a delicate delight, fragility and love bundled up in what many of us would recognise as the perfect ideal of motherhood. Blair Plant as the blustering Dad is equally impressive, the embodiment of that mid-twentieth century idea of masculinity.
But sailing through the whole with never a moment off stage is Nigel played with seemingly effortless charm and sensitivity by Giles Cooper. Cooper is convincingly the Nigel that many of us will know from his TV presence, even when being just nine years old. The clipped diction, manners and physicality seem all too real. And all this without betraying the trauma of loosing his mother, his cruel treatment of his stepmother and his stumbling into adulthood and sexuality. Cooper delivers a performance that is charming, captivatingly cruel and utterly convincing.
The addition of period sweets, the aroma of toast permeating the auditorium and those memories of childhood all add up to the kind of theatrical occasion that will live with audience members for a long time to come. As a serious food lover and theatre lover too this one was certainly ticking all of my boxes.
Theatre Royal Brighton