On the Rocks Interview: ‘Pass the Salt’

Simon, tell us about Pass the Salt – A Play Peppered with Humour. Simon Lamb (Writer, co-director and actor): Well, Pass the Salt is set in ‘The Mama Rose’, an […]

Simon, tell us about Pass the Salt – A Play Peppered with Humour.

Simon Lamb (Writer, co-director and actor): Well, Pass the Salt is set in ‘The Mama Rose’, an Italian restaurant owned by one Signor Serrano. Unfortunately for him, on the night his establishment is due to be reviewed, the duo of waiters at the core of the show get themselves into a bit of a pickle and the rest of the evening is spent in their company as they try to save the day… all whilst keeping the restaurant ticking over. The humour hinted at in the title comes from the staff of ‘The Mama Rose’ and the collection of colourful characters dining there that evening. It is very much an ensemble play which means that there’s always plenty of plots to follow and confusion to be had.

Sounds bellisimo. What inspired you to write it?

Simon: During last year’s On the Rocks, I played a part in the production of Ray Cooney’s farce Out of Order. I loved it. And it made me think – gee, I wish there were more ‘fun’ shows in St Andrews. So, why not write one myself? Soon afterwards I found myself sitting alone in the Byre and I wrote down all the locations where I thought comedy could occur. One of these was a restaurant and I’ve always liked the dining room scenes in Fawlty Towers, so you could say the setting comes from there. Another inspiration is my favourite TV comedy: Dad’s Army. I’d need more than this article to express my love for that show – but the point is that I love how timeless and harmless it is (despite being set during the war years). That was the sort of ‘gentle’ humour I wanted to see in St Andrews.

You’ve said to me in the past that you don’t appreciate “biting comedy”. Would you say this is a more wholesome kind of fun?

Simon: Yes. Pass the Salt is an experiment. My favourite piece of student theatre in St Andrews so far this academic year (and, indeed, one of my favourites over the last four years) was The Universal Language. It was so sweet and full of heart. I would say that Pass the Salt is my stab at ‘fun theatre’ – and I am most interested to see how it will be received.

Andrew, how have you found directing a piece of theatre with the writer himself?

Andrew Illsley (Co-director and actor): Working with the writer has been great! The best thing for me is that I can ask him what pictures he had in his head when writing the script which makes blocking much easier. Simon has also been very good at allowing the cast and I to incorporate script changes, which come organically through the rehearsal process – there is a real ‘ensemble’ feel to the whole thing.

Cast, how have you found working with a student writer in St Andrews?

Harshad Sambamurthy (Actor): I would say it’s been very gratifying. It has been a new experience. It helped me to understand my character much quicker as Simon was able to provide excellent guidance in establishing subtle character nuances – something that I would usually oversee.

Ali Duncan-Young (Actor): It’s been really fun! Simon is fab – as is his bowtie collection! Working with the writer means that you have a greater understanding of what he wants from you.

Simon: Unbearable.

How is Pass the Salt – A Play Peppered with Humour ‘different’ to other plays that go up in St Andrews?

Ali: The storyline is like no other I’ve seen or performed in before. Unique is probably an understatement! There are so many diverse characters. It’ll make for entertaining viewing.

Andrew: There have been some great comedy pieces performed in St Andrews and I think this play will follow in that vein. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think it’s a fun, enjoyable wee comedy with some fantastically farcical elements. A great watch for everyone.

Simon: Andrew’s right with that comment – it is a play for everyone. There are very few plays in St Andrews that are (for want of a better term) family-friendly. I think this is one of them. And that’s why you should be our guest during On the Rocks. All we want to do is serve you up a slice of good fun. Perfectly peppered to taste.


If Pass the Salt sounds like a salacious way to pass the time, make sure you get to Venue 1 on April 8th & 9th at 7.30pm.