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Toast (Brits Off Broadway)

From 32 critic and 152 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Slow, Funny, Quirky, Entertaining

About the show

Part of the Brits Off Broadway fest, this dark dramedy examines a crisis at a rundown bread factory in '70s England. A revival of an early play by Richard Bean, author of the Broadway smash 'One Man, Two Guvnors.' More…

Another Sunday night shift. The smell of bread baking. The industrial thump, thump, thump of the machines that never stop. The ovens are cranked up to full blast, the factory is humming, and everyone wants to be somewhere else. But this shift is going to be different, because when a crisis hits the factory, the men have more to lose than just their wages.

Theatre Reviews Limited

"'Toast' slices its way through layers of delicious intrigue to a tasty core of surprises that make the journey more than worthwhile…Each member of the ensemble cast delivers an authentic and believable performance…Eleanor Rhode directs 'Toast' with a keen eye for the visual and wastes no movement or pause…Mr. Bean – as he always manages to accomplish – creates order out of chaos and raises enduring questions from the detritus in an overflowing bin of used teabags." Full Review


"The two-act play boasts an all-male cast of seven whose fine acting drives the production…Just at about the point when the audience is stretched to exasperation at the inertia of the men and their tiresome boredom, Bean cleverly turns the action sideways…A fascinating look at the impact of factory work…This is a fine production which raises important questions about the nature of employment for others and the deadening aspect of work for hire." Full Review


“Its seven actors, under director Eleanor Rhode, are giving performances as balanced and precise as a top-flight chamber-music ensemble...All of Bean's characters are intricately delineated and humorously so...Bean has an original voice and a keen eye for character. 'Toast' demonstrates that he has had those gifts from the beginning of his career.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The chief pleasures are in watching an expertly meshed ensemble of top-notch British actors doing their best working-class stuff, which means we have to contend with their sometimes impenetrable lingo and dialects. Since a big clock up center shows us real time passing, the play doesn’t escape the longueurs (mainly in act one) of watching characters simply sitting around and smoking, but if hyperrealism is your thing, a slice of ‘Toast’ goes a long way." Full Review

The New York Times

“As directed by Rhode, and acted by a vigorous cast of seven, it is a shrewd and poignant study of how rote work defines those who perform it...'Toast' isn’t easy to classify. It combines the frenzy of farce with the creeping incremental detail of kitchen-sink realism...Joking, teasing and roughhousing are all just diversions to keep people from thinking about the final nothingness that awaits them. That 'Toast' is shadowed by this awareness doesn’t keep it from being boisterously entertaining." Full Review


"The show is a humorous, yet intensely realistic depiction of factory life and the diverse group of men who share their workdays…The stellar cast features some of Britain's most celebrated actors in a collective performance that is absolutely compelling. They deliver the glib male banter seamlessly…It is an entertaining and appealing show that brings a real sense of humanity to the stage with an excellent depiction of the working class and their realities." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The pace of this play is slow and the payoff might seem subtle, except that this production affords a feast of notable character actors, in perfect ensemble, performing small, detailed moments beautifully full of life and significance...Richard Bean creates a microcosm in which we can see a world of despair in the labor force, and the humor in the play humanizes the plight in both stark and gentle ways.” Full Review


"'Toast' is a beautifully constructed slice-of-life drama about the camaraderie amongst lower-class English bread plant workers in the 1970s...Though it takes a while for the story to get going, every detail revealed in the men's everyday interactions comes into play later on...The production's commitment to realism helps create a world as inescapable for the audience as it is for the men who work there...The stage is graced by extraordinary acting all around...A joy to watch." Full Review

Epoch Times

"The play has an air of authenticity since it is based on the author’s own experience working at a bread factory in 1975 when he was 18 years old...'Toast' is another winner from across the pond. Director Eleanor Rhode and all but one of the cast members are from the 2014 revival at The Park Theatre in London by Snapdragon Productions. And the cast is superb." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Bread isn’t the only thing that’s baking in 'Toast'; director Eleanor Rhode imbues nervous energy into a production that proves both raucously entertaining and moving…For all of 'Toast’s' good humor, farce gives way to a darkly spiritual kitchen-sink drama. Rhode’s trump card is Matthew Kelly’s devastatingly haunting portrayal of Nellie, the ever-laboring, broken yes-man." Full Review


"With ingenuously boorish and precisely written characters, Bean’s play is full of humor with moments of intense drama leaving the audience on the edge of their seats...Overall the performances were impressive and gave a slightly stagnant plot, life and motion. Under the brilliant direction of Eleanor Rhode, this revival is the perfect vehicle for Bean’s clever writing and the play that began his prolific career." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"'Toast,' which takes place 40 years ago, chronicles the slow death of the industrial economy in England. Bean, who’s an expert with a quip and a joke, has something more serious on his mind here than he did with the lovable 'One Man, Two Guvnors,' and he has the right cast, the right director in Eleanor Rhode and the right set designer in James Turner, who must have had a bang-up time covering the set with the flour that layers the players, too." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“If you’re a fan of British theater and want to enjoy some fine acting, then you may want to help yourself to a slice of ‘Toast’...There is a strong sense of ensemble among the all-male cast, all of whom portray fully realized characters with great skill and talent...Those who are not au fait with the British sense of humor may feel a little lost at times. Still, it is easy to warm to every character in this offbeat story.” Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"The situation is somewhat formulaic and so is the plotting, but Bean manages something distinctive, too, giving each of the men a distinctive voice...By showing their rivalry and camaraderie, Bean humanizes these men without lending their characters or their work any particular dignity...Eleanor Rhode’s production is finely detailed, perhaps too finely...The performances are playful and mostly un-showy." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Be on notice that the play is full of local slang, and the actors speak in accents thick enough to need an industrial bread slicer to cut through...When an emergency arises that threatens to kill the operation, the men pull together to work on a solution. This may be the play's most compelling section. Even more surprising is the fact that you really begin to care what will happen to them, even if you can't always understand what they are saying." Full Review

On Stage Blog

"During the first act I found myself looking at the clock above the door often too, I swear it goes slower than my watch...But the good play that it certainly is, 'Toast' is often unpredictable. The playwright Richard Bean switches genre gears in a heartbeat mainly through the character of Lance. A brilliant cast directed by Eleanor Rhode delivers some warm and gentle comedy." Full Review

Woman Around Town

“Accents, be warned, are, though undoubtedly accurate, extremely strong and often incomprehensible...Playwright Richard Bean offers an unmistakably authentic scenario, but so little happens, it’s an effort to remain consistently interested...Every character is three dimensional, with Simon Greenall’s Cecil and John Wark’s Lance manifesting notable distinctions...Eleanor Bean’s direction helps color her characters. Staging is effective.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“'Toast' baits us with an incredibly deep, crafted world that left me wanting to know more about what I had seen. I felt like I had been shown only a fraction of the real meat existing between these characters underneath the surface, and it was a bit disappointing to feel that only a few stories came to a satisfying conclusion. It is great to see a skilled cast...however, it also might be somewhat challenging for the casual theatregoer to appreciate the inner workings of the play." Full Review

Time Out New York

“In a season already blessed with two effective break-room dramas, it’s tough to drum up much interest in this 1999 throwback by the author of ‘One Man, Two Guvnors.’ Bean evidently learned a thing or two in the wake of this, his first play—like how to jump right into the action and not waste a good half-hour establishing character...In the second act the action cranks up...Unfortunately Kelly cartoonishly indicates Nellie’s fright and confusion rather than authentically embodying the emotions." Full Review

A Seat on the Aisle

"It seems to me that there really is much less to Richard Bean’s 'Toast' than first meets the eye. At first blush, the play, set in a drab, sterile bakery factory in Hull, appears to be something of an existential metaphor for the transience and meaninglessness of human life…And yet it is all for naught…'Toast’s' seven man ensemble cast is truly outstanding, but as for the play itself, not so much." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"I wish 'Toast' had wasted a little more time with the existential hokum. The play, which clocks in at a cumbersome two hours, lives largely in the antics of men...The stakes here never surpass that scene, an hour earlier, when Lance gave Walter a death sentence. Though we do gain some deeper insight into Lance, it doesn’t quite distinguish him from any of his colleagues; 'Toast’s' ultimate takeaway remains that these men love to work." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"'Toast' has the sting of authenticity in its portrait of life in a large-scale, factory-like bakery in Hull, England, in the mid-'70s, but, lacking the yeast of a strong dramatic conflict, the result is the theatrical equivalent of flatbread...The characters, however well-drawn, are not intrinsically compelling and very little happens before the intermission...This is a workplace play that feels like work to watch." Full Review

New York Post

"It’s a slog. The action, such as it is, takes place in the break room of a British bread factory, where the employees affectionately bicker and sip endless cups of tea. Nothing much happens, and the elliptical dialogue is made even more impenetrable by the working-class northern English accents. Things marginally pick up in the second act — if you make it that far. Sadly, this loaf takes way too long to rise." Full Review

The Arts Desk

for a previous production "'Toast' is a gloriously madcap blast about men’s insecurities and pomposities…Jokes come thick and fast in a coarse shorthand that is indecently funny…Eleanor Rhode’s effervescent direction and a mesmerising ensemble...The joy of 'Toast' is not just the crisp dialogue and tasty characterising, it’s the cunning with which Bean and Rhode ratchet up the suspense, playing with your expectations of the plot and fears for the individuals." Full Review

British Theatre Guide

for a previous production "The heart and soul of this play are its characters, each and every one as nutty as the wholemeal loaves that they tirelessly bake…The authenticity seems beyond doubt, helped by James Turner's deliberately drab set...'Toast' announced the arrival of one of the best playwrights currently operating in the UK. It still lives up to tough scrutiny a decade and a half on, easily capable of exciting, amusing and challenging viewers today." Full Review

Absorbing, Exquisite, Masterful

See it if You like good drama if you like good acting. If you want a touch of humor. If you like good writing. If you like good character development.

Don't see it if You find British accents difficult.

Absorbing, Funny, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy good ensemble acting. Interesting study of place of work in our lives, how work fills time and protects people from themselves.

Don't see it if You do not like serious theater, too much talking is boring, you do not want your self image challenged.

Excellent acting, Funny, Absorbing, Unexpected

See it if you love great acting, this ensemble is fantastic. It moves slowly but is incredibly engaging.

Don't see it if you prefer shows that are big and fast.

Enchanting, Great acting, Quirky, Funny, Resonant

See it if you want to see 7 actors exquisitely inhabit characters you'll never forget. If you have patience for serious drama that is slow to unfold

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding thick working class British accents with lots of slang. It took me a few minutes for my ears to adjust.

Funny, Great acting, Edgy, Great staging, Intense

See it if British humor and the comradely of all male actor shenanigans!

Don't see it if You don't like dark humor or British wit.

Absorbing, Great staging, Great acting, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if It's set in a bakery -- who'd a thunk it would be so compelling. Brilliant production and casting. You may never forget some of these faces.

Don't see it if Hard to understand the accents & jargon -- perhaps -- but they give you a short glossary and, really, one does catch on. Total: two hours.

Great acting, Great writing, Quirky

See it if wonderful writing - great language in the regional British working class characters.

Don't see it if you don't understand British accents and don't like learning new evocative lnaguage

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if Slow first act, not boring. Stay with Richard Bean's existential meditation on factory lives in the 1970s. Funny and beautifully observed.

Don't see it if you need fast, logical action, dislike raunchy language, have difficulty with regional UK expressions and dialect.

Relevant, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Challenging

See it if you are open to real time theater set in a realistic English workplace and can identify with working class struggles

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding thick regional British accents - the language can be challenging. But the writing rewards your effort.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you like dark British comedies like Calendar Girls, The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, etc. Also if you enjoy great ensemble acting.

Don't see it if you prefer light and fluffy comedies. Or if you have problems understanding some English accents.

Original, Insightful, Slow, Intense

See it if you like British drama and can understand Yorkshire accents and colloquialisms.

Don't see it if You're not into plays based in one location that focus on one theme

Clever, Original, Absorbing

See it if If you can take the time to read the vocabulary list first Wait a few minutes for the the characters to begin to develop

Don't see it if Can't take regional accents

Character driven, Entertaining, Great acting, Funny, Challenging

See it if you love to explore new worlds and great acting. This story is character driven and you come to love the characters.

Don't see it if you have a problem with understanding heavy accents. This will be frustrating if you can't understand the dialect.

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if If you want to see outstanding ensemble acting "Toast" is for you. By Richard Bean it begins slowiy but is well worth seeing!

Don't see it if British plays about employees and their problems in a bakery are not for you.

Funny, Great acting, Slow

See it if You know or want to know life in Hull ,U.K. In 70's. Funny,sad drama. Great cast,great acting.

Don't see it if Struggle with accents, the actors stay pretty true to hull 1970's. This is not fast action, it is very slow especially at the beginning.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if You like British humour, working-class struggles and some raunchiness, and are willing to attune your ear to a variety of accents.

Don't see it if You were in the mood for something lighthearted or you want straightforward narrative.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy UK plays that deal with various aspects of life, work, class, humor of that part of the world.

Don't see it if You dislike blunt language, humor, from a UK originated show - and also have trouble with English dialects.

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if You appreciate good acting and direction along with good character development; poignancy mixed with humor and a great second act.

Don't see it if you have trouble following fast paced talking with regional accents and slang, if repetitive shenanigans bore you - 1 crotch grab too many.

Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You like slice-of-life, psychological realism, spot-on set, costumes, and situation. The acting was excellent from the whole cast.

Don't see it if You want something fast-paced, don't like British acting, or pure realism.

Entertaining, Funny, Original, Quirky, Slow

See it if You want to see a workplace drama with moments of comedy, especially if you enjoy the British perspective.

Don't see it if You can't take long moments of inactivity on stage or have trouble understanding British accents.

Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if You like realistic theater that doesn't have things "happening" every second, but paints vivid pictures of characters & tells a strong story

Don't see it if You are impatient, struggle with British accents or want action-packed theater.

Entertaining, Confusing, Clever, Indulgent, Funny

See it if You like somewhat silly British humor, a few bathroom humor type laughs, simple plot

Don't see it if you have difficulty understanding British dialogue, don't like silly humor, want a show with a deep intriguing plot

Great acting, Entertaining, Raunchy

See it if you can appreciate the drama and humor and pathos in a play about people who have boring jobs, instead of finding that premise boring.

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding unfamiliar accents, or you object to the kind of language that's used in all-male work environments.

Absorbing, Edgy, Indulgent, Intelligent

See it if In depth writing. Characters are developed and engaged in the story line. Production design and lighting a plus.

Don't see it if Very fast pace speech with hard British accents makes it a bit difficult to pick up on every word.

Great acting, Original, Slow, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if You "get" British slang and humor. See it if you like smaller, slow-paced pieces.

Don't see it if You find it hard to follow heavy British accents or if you don't like "dramedy" type plays.

Cast & Creatives (14)