Hot on the heels of their starry audio version of The Understudy, Lawrence Batley Theatre has now released an audio version of Toast to the digital space following a successful tour last year.
When I saw this show live at The Other Palace, I was struck by the strength of the biographical elements together with the love of food which has led Nigel Slater to a long career in the industry.
Does it work as an audio drama with images and animation: absolutely yes! The quality of the script (adapted by Henry Filloux-Bennett) is clear when you are concentrating squarely on the words, and the energy and emotions in young Slater’s life are just as well-conveyed as they were on stage.
I was glad to see the same cast return, with Giles Cooper as Nigel and Lizzie Muncey as Mum especially convincing. There are moments which necessarily lose a bit of power in this format (“La Mer”), but others are addressed with flair (“Go to work on an egg”).
Toast is a charming rite of passage full of cookery books, jam tarts, walnut whips and even a quiz about sweets. It brings out clearly the issues around growing up gay in suburbia, and if it totters into caricature with the depiction of Joan, then it can be forgiven.
Sharply funny and sweetly touching, Toast is a good choice to show how theatre can adapt and regroup in strange times. It is directed by Johnnie Riordan and animated by Dusthouse.
Toast runs from 4-31 July 2020.