Theatre review: Toast

Siblings bicker, reminisce and unite in the wake of loss.

Toast, written by Liz Newell and directed by Emily McLean, starts with the kind of phone calls that no one ever wants to receive. The play, a collaboration between the Black Swan State Theatre Company and the Blue Room Theatre, opens with three sisters learning that their mother has just died. Candice (Alison van Reeken), Alex (Amy Mathews) and Sydney (Sam Nerida) cope with the loss of their mother in different ways. While trying to do their best to get through the situation, the three inevitably clash, with heart-breaking and hilarious results. 

The sisters make it through the funeral and the wake, only to confront the biggest problem of all: what to do with their mother’s house.? As if that wasn’t enough, life keeps going, despite even the biggest loss. On top of dealing with property decisions, the sisters have their own troubles to contend with. The pressure to keep on top of everything is starting to get to Candice, Alex is bingeing confectionery as she tries to maintain sobriety, and Sydney can’t find the words to tell her best friend that she’s in love with her.

Thrown into the mix is rookie real estate agent Gwen (Teresa Jakovich), who has very little experience in selling homes, but a knack for finding herself in the thick of family fights. 

Performed in the State Theatre Centre of WA’s Studio Underground, Toast is set entirely in the garage of the family home. As the sisters bicker, break down and bond, the garage slowly empties of boxes, junk and furniture. A subtle but effective use of lighting reflects the sisters’ emotional highs and lows as they pack up their childhood home and reminisce over bittersweet memories. 

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Toast is a poignant, thoughtfully written story of love and loss. The cast offer a realistic and heartfelt portrayal of the painful experience of grief and the intense ups and downs of sisterhood. Lighter-hearted moments are interspersed throughout the play, with the relationship between the sisters being the main source of comic relief. Together, they fight over Tupperware, diss their mum’s taste in music and ponder the origins of the mysterious toaster that they found in the garage. 

Toast asks the big question: how do you keep going when you lose someone you love? Candice, Alex and Sydney grapple with their loss and with each other, but ultimately, their love for one another helps them keep going. And, as it turns out, solo dance parties, the Twilight series and pizza are essential parts of the healing process too. 

Toast by Liz Newell
Co-presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company and The Blue Room Theatre
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth
Director: Emily McLean
Cast: Alison van Reeken, Amy Mathews, Sam Nerida and Teresa Jakovich

Toast was performed from 5-15 May 2022.

Elena Perse is a Master of Professional Writing and Publishing student and book lover. Her work has been published by Pelican Magazine, Westerly Magazine and FRINGEWORLD.