salad days

My salad days, When I was green in judgment. Picture: Scott Rylander

Salad Days

Coventry Belgrade


Salad Days is billed as the ‘happiest musical ever’. It inspired Sir Cameron Mackintosh as a seven-year-old, is beloved by the Queen and supposed to be her favourite and you can see why.

The music, merriment and movement are wonderful, the songs are catchy, timeless and chirpy. The Queen’s favourite is We said we wouldn’t look back. The ‘plot’, however, becomes increasingly implausible as we progress.

Timothy (Mark Anderson) and Jane (Jessica Cnoll) are new graduates thrown moderately unprepared into the much-vaunted metropolitan elite of 1950’s London society.

Jane is instructed and encouraged by her mother to find an eligible man to marry. Lord Nigel Danvers (James Gulliford) looks a likely candidate. Timothy is instructed by his parents to, in the words of the song, Find yourself something to do.

Literally a plethora of uncles proffer advice, ideas and contacts. Diplomacy, space travel, politics are all covered. But uncle (Dan Smith) with the piano wins. He is a musical tramp with a magic piano that can make people dance.

He offers Timothy and Jane the chance to mind the piano and use it to make a living. They just about have time to get married seriously against the run of play before the job starts. They pick up a homeless mime artist (Callum Evans) to collect the money.

Who stole the show? Yes, Asphynxia (Maeve Byrne), a singer in a nightclub called Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is where the quote Salad Days is from) with a wonderfully saucy number Sand in my Eyes, and a close runner up in the style of PC Lancelot Boot and his inspector (Jay Wonthy) trying to ascertain which dances the piano inspired. On the way, there is some glorious dancing, some great songs and I always love a band on stage.

Has it stood the test of time? I’m not convinced. But it is pure escapism, and on a wet Wednesday when the remains of Hurricane Ali are pounding our shores, why not?

Directed by Bryan Hodgson and written by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds, Salad Days runs to 22-09-18

Jane Howard




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