You see, the thing is, if you looked at the synopsis of Salad Days and thought, “That’s preposterous,” then ran your eye over the list of songs and thought, “Never heard of any of them,” and then picked up the fact that this revival at the Riverside Studios was staged in the traverse and that the seating was unallocated you might very well think that this was a show you could comfortably miss.
But it turns out you would be wrong.
This ludicrous tale from 1954 set in a world of people with nice, clipped accents, pullovers, butterfly nets and perambulators jabs a well manicured finger into the brain’s charm sensors and applies a gentle pressure for the full duration to the degree that neither “a piano that makes people gay” (in the traditional sense of the word) nor flying saucers seem ridiculous topics for a musical at all.
The cast is utterly charming, the singing quite lovely, the comedy delightful and it looks absolutely gorgeous: the costumes are spot on (and look out for the Alpine frock in Act 2 during the scene at Gusset Creations) and it even looks like the poster with its grassy stage and its huge banana yellow drapes cladding every wall of the enormous Studio 2.
Without wanting to give too much away there is even some audience participation and a singalong.
Be prepared: it is 100 per cent froth. There is not a moment of insight or depth and yet was that a tear of, of, of joy in the corner of a certain Whinger’s eye at the end? Having seen it it’s not surprising that the original production ran for 2,283 performances, a record beaten only when Oliver! came along.
“I’ve no idea what’s going on but I’m crazy to join in,” says one of the characters as she tried to catch up with the plot so far. We knew just how she felt.