Review | Revived play ‘Toast’ mixes humour and raw emotions

TOAST | State Theatre Studio Underground | 8 – 15 May 2022 | ★ ★ ★ ★

As the lighting comes up on the set of the Black Swan State Theatre Company’s latest production, the audience finds themselves in a garage full of a life’s treasures, mixed with household things that might be useful or may be just trash. This is what three sisters have to deal with after the sudden death of their mother.

Each member of the audience will have a different reaction. I’ve been there with my siblings, in a time of grief, sorting through childhood memories and trying to work out what to keep, what to donate and what to put in the skip on the verge. And we did find masterpieces that we had produced in primary school that our mother had held onto for all those years.

Five years after its original performance at The Blue Room, the award-winning play Toast has returned for Perth audiences to The State Theatre. Written and produced by Liz Newell and directed by Emily Mclean, the female-centric play is about mothers, memories, sisters, many forms of grief and moving forward. It is about letting go and holding on at the same time.

Oldest sister Candice (Alison Van Reeken) is the one in charge. She organises the boxes for sorting, the real estate agent to value the property and a ‘pizza and packing night’. Unlike her two sisters, she is frantically efficient and wants to avoid any sentimentally. Newly sober Alex (Amy Mathews) is the sentimental one, counting her days of sobriety and desperate to hold onto the Tupperware that reminds her of her childhood.

The youngest sister is Sydney (Sam Nerida) who was adopted into the family when the other two were a lot older. As a lesbian, Sydney is preoccupied with belonging and being accepted by both her sisters and her best friend, with whom she is unable to communicate the depth of her feelings.

As the set is stripped bare of the things that have been left behind from their mother’s life, all the sisters find that they themselves are stripped bare and have to confront raw emotions. This is not to say that there isn’t a huge amount of humour as the sisters sort, spar, squabble and raise a metaphorical toast their mother.

Liz Newell said in an interview with OUTinPerth, “I like to think Toast is as much about life as it is about death. Hopefully, also, whether you have siblings or not, people might find a little bit of themselves in some of the people onstage, or their families.”

“Everyone has a family, even if they don’t exist in any traditional sense of the definition. And the one thing families have in common is, they’re weird. Really weird, and stupid, and all about pushing or pulling, but sometimes filled with far more love than any one person in that family might ever admit. Love – like grief – manifests in all kinds of ways, and maybe the only thing more universal than death is love.”

Toast will be at The Underground Theatre until Saturday 15 May. Recommended Age 15+, tickets can be found at Black Swan State Theatre Company

Lezly Herbert

You can support our work by subscribing to our Patreon
or contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.

Tags: , , ,

You must be logged in to post a comment Login