‘Toast’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by May 10, 2017

‘Toast’ is the third and latest production from the admirable Maiden Voyage Theatre Company. Written by award nominated playwright, Liz Newell, this new contemporary work for adults, was further honed by the members of the all-female creative unit. This outstanding cast is has been selected with care, and includes Equity, TV Logie and Blue Room winning ‘Best Actors’, along with acting students who have been best in their year.

This 75-minute comical but heartfelt production can be seen in the main theatre at the Blue Room Theatre, James Street, Northbridge each evening at 7.00 pm until Saturday 27th May.

Sally Phipps’ set is a typical garage in a Perth house. It has a concrete floor, numerous shelves and piles of ‘treasures’ – all too valuable to throw out. In the corner there is a bar fridge and discarded settee. Chloe Ogilvie’s lighting makes good use of illumination levels and uses individual spotlights to subtly enhance the mood. Sound designer and composer, Rachael Dease, has also used subtlety, employing soft, single octave melody to give least distraction.

The production was stage managed by Georgia Smith.

         Candice’s mobile rings, the hospital informs her that her widowed Mum has just died. Being the oldest of three sisters, she has been the dominating one all of her life, constantly reading between the lines at everything her siblings say. Candice (Alison van Reeken) lacks the courage to telephone her feisty middle sister, Alex (Amy Mathews), who has a health problem and so asks the much younger sister, Sydney (Anna Lindstedt) to carry out the task. Sydney is the slightly withdrawn, quieter sister.

       At the wake, Sydney prefers to be in the garage, away from the mourners, nibbling at the spread of food. Later in the week, comes the clearing out of the deceased’s clothing and belongings. For some sisters, each item has a loving memory, for another it is all junk ready for the Salvos or the bin. As the boxes pile up in the garage, a young woman in a smart suit arrives. She is a real estate agent (Samantha Maclean) sent along by Candice to value the home. At this stage, it becomes obvious that each sister is dealing with their grief in very different ways.

 

Emily McLean, who directed the winner of the 2016 Blue Room Theatre’s ‘Best Production Award’, has again teamed up with Liz Newell to give us this enthralling and very poignant, new production.

The script is superbly written and skilfully delivered. Most people will see their own family in this story of the good, the bad and the ugly. Of course, at the death of every close relative, the vultures gather, looking for the pickings. This play had a particular scene where it was hard not to shed a tear at a cruel outburst.

The rich story is told from the heart, looking at the situation from numerous angles. Recalling the wonderful, top rate plays from Maiden Voyage in the past, I went to see this play expecting the best, and got the VERY best.

This is one of those plays where, at the final curtain the audience sits numbed, and subsequently does not give the full applause due to the actors. Comments on the way out of the theatre included ‘magnificent’, ‘wow that was good’. Yes, it was certainly worth going out on a cold night to see.