REVIEW: Toast is an Apt and Astoundingly Accurate Portrayal of Grief and Family
I had very high expectations for Maiden Voyage Theatre Company's Toast coming into the show. From the fantastic creative team to the enticing premise (and, of course, the chance to chat with director Emily McLean), everything was shaping up to be a fantastic night of theatre. And let me tell you, nothing could have prepared me for the real thing.
Entering the Blue Room, theatre-goers were greeted by a meticulously designed garage set, instantly setting the mood for what was the come. Then, one by one, the characters were introduced to the audience, and already I got the sense that these actresses knew their characters inside out. In fact, I was fully convinced these were real human beings, and we were but voyeurs into this starkly human drama as it unfolded.
The intimacy of the Blue Room suited this play well. There was no escaping what was on stage- only the occasionally amplified audience reaction or the odd conversation with a character off stage served to remind you that this was just a play. From seasoned veterans to young rising stars, each actress was incredibly compelling; Alison van Reeken as the uptight oldest sister Candice, Amy Mathews as the recovering alcoholic middle child Alex, Anna Lindstedt as the youngest, adopted sister Sydney and Samantha McLean as the often-unperceptive real estate agent Gwen. Every inch of them became their character. They were given plenty of room for deep character development, and the relationships between sisters were well established through the unfurling dialogue and time alone on stage. The script was brilliantly natural, with each joke arriving at the perfect time, and the moving moments cutting you to the heart given how very real it all felt.
Essentially, my expectations were blown to smithereens. Toast is a marvel of an emotional rollercoaster. Moving but not sickly sentimental and funny but not vulgar, the show is an important portrayal of what words like “home”, “grieving” and “family” really mean. The program was right; “grief is weird,” alright, but when it’s done this well, it makes for one hell of a performance.
TOAST is running until the 27th of May. There are still some tickets left, make sure you get yours HERE.