Theatre Review: Toast is a bittersweet portrayal of grief, loss and family (Performances at Perth’s Blue Room Theatre until 27th May)

Liz Newell and Emily McLean have returned to The Blue Room Theatre with Toast, a charming exploration of grief, loss, and family. Following the sudden death of their mother, three sisters come together to clear out their childhood home. The headstrong Candice (Alison Van Reeken), recovering alcoholic Alex (Amy Mathews), and adoptive sister Sydney (Anna Lindstedt) must all unpack their grief as they box up the mementos and memories of their childhood. The different ways in which the sister process their grief is a cause of tension between the three, particularly with the eldest sister Candice and her Type A personality clashing heavily with the laid- back Alex and awkward Sydney.

The chemistry between each of the three sisters creates an engaging on-stage performance, helping to punctuate the heavier moments of the performance with instances heart warming humour. Throughout the performance, it is hardest to take your eyes off Mathews in her flawless portrayal of Alex, as she struggles with both her grief, sobriety and misdirected rage.

The only shortcoming of Toast is the unclear image painted of the sister’s late mother. The inability for the audience to really grasp an understanding of the type of woman she was hampered the ability fully empathise with the sisters.

Sally Phipps beautifully creates a cluttered family garage, left to store the nostalgic remnants of memories gone by that no longer have use, but that one cannot bear to throw away. The set is enhanced by Chloe Ogilvie’s lighting design, and Rachael Dease’s sound design, which helps to carry the piece through its lighter and darker moments.

Toast is beautiful, bittersweet and, to paraphrase from Van Reeken, a story about who will pull you out when you are lost in being lost.

Performances continue at The Blue Room Theatre through 27th May. For tickets and more details head to blueroom.org.au

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