Review: Salad Days

A company more accustomed to opera, it may be a surprise to some that Tête à Tête present this production of the musical Salad Days at Riverside Studios but their light touch and loving appreciation of the piece is the reason it returns to the venue after a successful run last year.

Salad Days premiered at the Bristol Old Vic in 1954 and transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre London later that year.  After a run of 2,283 performances it became the longest-running show in British musical theatre history before later being overtaken by Oliver!  Salad Days is an innocent story of Timothy and Jane who come together after their graduation to map out their futures in what is an over-regulating society and damaged post-war world.  They acquire a street piano and soon discover that it makes people dance.  This charmingly magical and absurd story sees the couple lead through adversity into a bright future.

Tête à Tête transform the studio into a London park within which the audience are welcomed to their graduation and invited to sit on the lawns to enjoy this magical story.  The connection and relationship with the audience is a key part of Tête à Tête’s work and this is achieved here with excellence.  The book is a masterpiece of 1950s wit and although the story is really quite potty, it somehow sits comfortably.  Tête à Tête are well suited to stage the piece as their dedication and informal take present us with a stylised 1950s revival rather than a retro regurgitation.  It would be tempting to ham the old-fashioned style and humour but unnecessary as laughter flows nontheless.  This production effervesces the irresistible charm and gaiety of a period classic.

Bill Bankes-Jones’ direction is inspired and imaginative and is thoroughly supported by Quinny Sacks’ classically stylised and spirited choreography.  The design by Tim Meacock is simplistic but captivating and holds the mood of the piece perfectly.  Much attention is also taken to achieving the original feel of the music and under Anthony Ingle’s lead, the original charm of the piece continues.  The decision to stage a musical without amplification, particularly in a studio space, may have seemed a brave one but the strength of the performance here is unmistakable.  The cast achieves a great level of connection by working without the aid of microphones and the quality of their performance is evident, for you would believe that they are indeed living this story out themselves.  Katie Moore is sweet and delightful as Jane, Sam Harrison as Timothy is a pure wonder and Lee Boggess is brilliant as the warm-natured mine Troppo.

Tête à Tête’s pure quality ensures that the magic of Minnie the piano and the delight of Salad Days is brought again to new audiences and continues to plant the seeds of treasured theatrical memories.

Runs until Sunday 6th February 2011 at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, W6 9RL.


Written on behalf of The Public Reviews www.thepublicreviews.com.

Copyright © The Public Reviews & theatreJunki 2010.

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