Lovely green things: Salad Days
Salad Days is back at the Riverside Studios and is a delightful antidote to cold wet days in London. The story of a young couple who just recently graduated and find themselves entertaining London with a piano is a bit like the Fantasticks with its ever-so-silly plot, but the performances, inspired production and upbeat nature of the show make for an enjoyable, if slightly overlong show.
It is 1954 and Timothy and Jane (played by the wonderful Leo Miles and Katie Moore) leave university to make their own ways in the world. A chance meeting with a tramp brings the couple together as his street piano gives everyone around them an irresistible and unstoppable urge to dance. Meanwhile the police and the establishment want to put a stop to all this fun. Cue singing and dancing and general silliness.
The production is from opera company Tête à Tête, and so the singing and musicianship is very good. But the ensemble also show a great sense of comic timing and fun in the proceedings which is essential for this sort of show. The company aims to bring uplifting, surprising, daring and intimate (hopefully not all at the same time) opera productions of the highest quality to audiences. Riverside Studios is transformed into a piece of Hyde Park complete with AstroTurf and the cast welcoming you to the graduation upon arrival. With some clever lighting and effects you soon find yourself transformed to a different time and place.
As a piece that is constantly aiming to be light and frothy it is an alternative to panto and can be enjoyed by all ages... Although one lady at the evening performance I caught decided to tell off a father for not keeping his young daughter under control. From what I could hear from her rant it was something about being distracting. The father was very polite considering the show is staged in the traverse and the slightest twitch from someone opposite could catch your eye. I found the little girl less distracting than the horsey ladies sitting opposite with their long faces and riding boots. The other downside to this staging was that the actors had an awful lot of running to do, which might explain why they look exhausted by the end of it.
But it is all good clean fun (and not at all like the Sam Peckinpah version). It runs to 2 March. Look out for offers and discounts from the usual outlets...