Toast is a comedic drama written by Richard Bean who went on the pen the smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors. The play is based on the experiences Bean had during the year he spent working at a bakery.
Set entirely in the break room of a Hull bakery during the night shift, the play examines the lives of the workers and how their work influences them whilst the possibility of closure looms over them.
Headlining the cast list is Olivier Award winner Matthew Kelly as Walter “Nellie” Nelson who has worked at the bakery for forty years. His performance is beautifully observed. During one of the many pregnant pauses with just weary Nellie sitting at a table pondering about whether to smoke one of his rationed cigarettes, the expression on his face conveys everything you need to know about his thoughts. This wonderful acting continues even when he’s out of the spotlight, sitting on a bench in the background.
The rest of the cast bring strong, realistic performances to the stage with Simon Greenall’s Cecil bringing much of the humour to the play.
The set design is fantastic and very detailed right down to the overflowing bin of teabags. and it makes the audience really believe they are a fly on the wall watching the action taking place rather than watching a play. The sound design is also excellent with the constant hum of the factory in the background adding to the realism. Plaudits also have to go to the costume department who have created dough-smeared outfits as well as actors.
The play is touring the UK before opening the Brits Off Broadway festival in New York.
On a sidenote – make sure you buy a programme. It contains a useful explanation of what the various bakery phrases mean such as
Toast is on at the Yvonne Arnaud from March 21 to 26.
Warning: The play includes very strong language, sexual references and smoking.
By Chris Kent
Image: Snapdragon Productions