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Toast (Brits Off Broadway)
Midtown E
71

Toast (Brits Off Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

71%
(152 Reviews)
Positive
68%
Mixed
25%
Negative
7%
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.'

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Member Reviews (152)

75
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.

75
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.

Critic Reviews (32)

May 2nd, 2016

“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."
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May 2nd, 2016

“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."
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May 13th, 2016

"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."
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May 4th, 2016

"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."
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May 5th, 2016

"'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."
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May 1st, 2016

"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."
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May 1st, 2016

“'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."
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May 2nd, 2016

"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.”
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May 2nd, 2016

“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.”
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May 2nd, 2016

“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.”
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May 10th, 2016

"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."
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May 18th, 2016

"'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."
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May 1st, 2016

"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."
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May 1st, 2016

"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."
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May 4th, 2016

"'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."
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May 2nd, 2016

“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.”
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May 2nd, 2016

"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."
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May 1st, 2016

"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."
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May 6th, 2016

"'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."
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May 2nd, 2016

"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."
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May 4th, 2016

"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."
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May 15th, 2016

"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."
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May 1st, 2016

"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."
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February 12th, 2016

"Under Eleanor Rhode’s thoughtful direction, the revival is surprisingly gentle, if bawdy…The first half of the play is slow and conversational...But it ends in a brilliantly, and bizarrely, macabre twist...The second, slightly shorter, half diffuses this tension only to build it up and then diffuse it again, ad infinitum...For me, it was the staging that lifted this production out of the ordinary…The play might have ended sooner than I expected, but isn’t that the sign of a good shift?"
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August 31st, 2014

"Bean's focus is less on the bread-baking process than on the desperate camaraderie among the workers whom we see during their canteen breaks...All the characters are vividly particularised in Rhode's production...Bean has gone on to write bigger plays and presumably, through the success of 'One Man, Two Guvnors,' to make a bit of dough. But he has written few better than this, which shows the testy companionship that emerges from earning one's daily bread."
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August 28th, 2014

"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."
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September 1st, 2014

"A small and vivid piece, packed with Bean’s now familiar gallows humour...Performed with appealing simplicity, 'Toast' feels like an ode to ordinariness — reminiscent of another writer with strong ties to Hull, Philip Larkin, though Bean evokes a grubbier, grittier world. Eleanor Rhode’s production captures both the grinding tediousness of shift work and the camaraderie that makes it bearable."
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February 11th, 2016

"Director Eleanor Rhode's generally tight production takes a while to get up to speed. This may be a relatively short play but the first third drags interminably as Bean observes the rituals and nuances of the workplace and shows how men are often unable to communicate with each other. The performances are spot-on though...Slow-burning revival which eventually flourishes thanks to its talented ensemble."
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February 17th, 2016

"Rhode’s direction is captivatingly methodical...The majority of the second half feels tonally lost....'Toast' is noticeably underdeveloped, especially when compared to Bean’s recent successes, but it is nonetheless a captivatingly frank portrait of working class life in 1970s Yorkshire. Rhode’s production has its flaws but also boasts a set of fine performances and shines a fascinating light on the early work of a prominent playwright."
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February 11th, 2016

"Filthy and funny, this seven-man show is ensemble playing at its best...It's also carefully observed...'Toast' is on a very slow burn in the first half. With some scenes played out in the real-time silence of a smoking break, the longeurs are stretched to breaking point...Things pick up in the second half, with a major bakery breakdown to deal with...While 'Toast' offers a poignant snapshot of a lost past, it's not quite strong enough to deliver real bite."
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February 12th, 2016

"'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."
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February 18th, 2016

"It takes an actor of rare skill to make something watchable from the consumption of a cheese sandwich...That actor is Matthew Kelly, who as a glum and gormless bakery worker of 45 years standing brings special delight to Richard Bean’s first play 'Toast'…The period is perfectly caught in this gripping two-hour play. Bean is best known these days for the hit comedy 'One Man, Two Guvnors,' whose unlikely characters stand in stark contrast to the real-life figures observable here."
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