Penny Flood is charmed by Riverside's song and dance extravaganza
Salad Days, back at the Riverside after a two year gap, are a song and dance extravaganza.
It’s more operetta than musical which isn’t surprising as it’s produced by Tête-à-Tête who specialise in new and innovative opera.
It’s a fabulous production which even boasts its own little orchestra; it sounds great and it’s lovely to look at. The year is 1954 and the attention to detail in the costumes is superb.
This was the time when girls had tiny waist lines offset by full skirts buoyed up by lots of petticoats which flounce and bounce wonderfully in the dance sequences.
There is a plot of sorts. The two main characters, Timothy (Leo Miles) and Jane (Katie Moore), having graduated from university, find themselves a loose ends, he needs a job and she needs a rich husband, and they acquire a magic piano, which makes everybody who hears it get up and dance.
This includes the audience so if you don’t want to be dragged onto the stage, don’t sit too close to the front. Audience participation starts even before you get to your seats as the cast, splendidly dressed gowned in their in their university graduation gowns, hand out diplomas so you’re ready for the opening scene, a graduation ceremony.
To make sure everybody gets a good view the audience is seated on either side of the stage and the action takes place in the centre, in a space laid out as a park. This is populated by the usual sort of people you’d meet in a park – a nanny pushing a big pram, a tennis player, a butterfly catcher policemen, young lovers and lots more - all of whom get drawn into the dance when piano plays begins to play.
The plot is very slight. It’s funny, but the humour relies on silliness – a policeman in pink ballet slippers, dotty diplomats, creepy Cossacks, a spaceship – rather than wit, but that doesn’t matter as it’s the music and the dancing that are important and they are great to the end.
Salad Days is at the Riverside Studios until March 2. To book a ticket, visit the 020 8237 1111 or book online.
January 4, 2013