book & lyrics by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds music by Julian Slade.
Riverside Studios (Studio 2) Crisp Road Hammersmith To 2 March 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu, Sat, Sun & 27 Feb 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1111.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 December.
Song and dance joy with a sense of transience.
Ah, happy 1954. To go to the theatre and be delectably entertained, around the interval experience of white-gloved ushers bringing a tray of tea and biscuits to one’s seat in the stalls, with the pleasant melodies of Mr Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend or this inconsequential piece about the right sort of people, by Mr Slade and Miss Reynolds. All before 1956 with its slap in the face for Britain from Suez and the dirty young men tearing up the rules of theatre, pouring away the tea, eating all the biscuits and singing new songs hoarsely.
Yet Salad Days are here again. Tête à Tête Productions return with a partially recast revival of their 2010 Christmas season revival, as brightly sung as ever. For Julian Slade’s music is the chief selling-point. There’s probably enough story to sustain a long one-act piece. The magic piano which makes all who hear it want to dance is a neat idea, an Ealing Films-like tilt at stuffy society. But the second act’s Egyptian-themed nightclub and flying saucer seem desperate attempts (however exotic for the respectable mid-fifties) to keep things going. Sketch-like inserts between two policemen or in a hair-salon seem dated, with merely mild period interest.
But there is more, with an autumnal feel even to young graduates Timothy and Jane. Audience members, greeted as visitors to a university degree ceremony, see them take their degrees and leave for adult life. The continuing idea of not looking back implies the wish to look back. And it’s in that wish that Salad Days reaches a bit deeper than its surface plot contrivances.
Set on a green lawn between two banks of spectators, there’s a visual brightness to the show. Scenes in corners can be awkward to view, but generally Bill Bankes-Jones’ production proceeds smoothly, the breakfast table of Timothy’s family, as they discuss how he’s to settle to a job, exuding complacency. Both Leo Miles (new) and Katie Moore (2010’s Jane returning) are ideal leads, while throughout the ensemble singing and dancing are a joy. An improbable joy, but still a source of innocent happiness.
Don/Fosdyke/Nigel/Gardener: Luke Alexander.
Chancellor/Troppo/Slave: Lee Boggess.
Don/Aunt Prue/Rowena/Charmian/Respectable Lady: Charlie Cameron.
Don/Gardener/Cossack/Night Club Customer/Pressman: Nicholas Collier.
Don/Tramp/Bishop/American/Tom Smith/Pressman: Matthew Hawksworth.
Don/Sir Clamsby Williams/Theatregoer/Manager/Pressman/Uncle Zed: Mark Inscoe.
Cossack/Night Club Customer/Pressman: Richard Kent.
Don/Tim’s Mother/Heloise/Nanny/Asphynxia/Respectable Lady/Anthea: Kathryn Martin.
Timothy: Leo Miles.
Don/PC Boot/Electrode: Tom Millen.
Jane: Katie Moore.
Don/Lady Raeburn/Artist/Theatregoer/Respectable Lady/Marguerite: Gemma Page.
Don/Beautician’s Assistant/Tennis Player/Shop Girl/Fiona: Ellie Robertson.
Don/ Beautician’s Assistant/Night Club Customer/Respectable Lady: Tanya Stephens.
Don/Tim’s Father/Butterfly Catcher/Inspector/Augustine Williams/Ambrose: Tony Timberlake.
Don/Manicurist/Night Club Customer/Respectable Lady: Josephine Warren.
Director: Bill Bankes-Jones.
Designer: Tim Meacock.
Lighting: Mark Doubleday.
Music Director: Anthony Ingle.
Choreographer: Quinny Sacks.
Dialect coach: Jan Haydn Rowles.
Wigs/Make-up: Camila Del Monte.
Assistant director: Oliver Platt.
Assistant choreographer: Lee Boggess.