Everyone Likes Toast.

The reviews are in for Toast and it's safe to say that they're pretty yummy. This is a wonderful thing. I'm really proud of the cast and the company and so chuffed to be in such a great show.

Daily Telegraph ★★★★ 

The Guardian ★★★★ 

The Times ★★★★ (see below)

What’s on Stage ★★★★ 

Time Out ★★★★  

The Stage ★★★★ 

Evening Standard ★★★★ 

The Arts Desk ★★★★ 

The Upcoming ★★★★ 

Theatre Cat ★★★★


Toast Review

The Times ★★★★

 Although Richard Bean wrote Toast more than a decade before he hit the big time with One Man, Two Guvnors, there is nothing remotely half-baked about his first professional play. Eleanor Rhode’s first-rate revival, the first in London since its Royal Court debut in 1999, is staged with enough passion, precision and wit to make it look the equal of any of the work that followed.

 Bean was already 42 when he wrote it, following careers as an occupational psychologist and a comedian. He’d also spent a gap year working in a bread factory in his native Hull, which became the setting for this tale of seven men playing games with each other — some more harmless than others — in their break room on a Sunday shift that turns from listless to urgent.

The plot is slow to make itself known, yet the details of work-life are so finely drawn, the earthy banter is so expert, that our two hours in this factory are always compelling. Each man is funny yet real and entirely distinct. There’s Steve Nicolson’s Blakey, grimacing behind specs that make him look like the man from the R Whites advert — well, this is 1975 — and tossing his teabag into the bin from across the room as if he’s done it 10,000 times before. There is Simon Greenall’s gurgling, playful Cecil; Matt Sutton’s agitated Peter in his flared jeans; Finlay Robertson’s tattooed ex-sailor, Dezzie, girding his loins for a conjugal break-time dash home. Will Barton’s Colin, the shop steward, wears a tie and speaks in aspirational vowels. John Wark’s Lance is a cords-wearing student, yet is far too bumptious and odd to come across as an author figure. And it’s wonderful simply to watch Matthew Kelly, as the jowly, slow-witted old-timer Nellie, whose wife rations him to 20 cigarettes a week, masticating his way unhurriedly through a sandwich. He ain’t nothing but a hangdog.

There’s an unseen boss, a Mr Beckett, known to be “shagging that girl on custards with no teeth”. Toast is too strongly tied to the real world to be some Beckettian exercise, though: Bean peppers everything with humour and tenderness, bile and self-awareness. Rhode’s vivid, perfectly paced production takes place on a dirty grey set, by James Turner, backed by Max Pappenheim’s clankingly mechanical sound design. It knows when to be urgent and when to slack off. And the performers act brilliantly, without sentiment, to find the soul of a play that reminds us how badly we need even the crummiest job to give us not just dough but also a sense of being useful; a sense of belonging. A great British bake-off indeed