ToasT is a new play by spoken word artist and Tony Award winning writer Lemon Andersen about a group of inmates fighting to keep their minds free amidst the 1971 riots that rocked Attica Prison. More…
After 27 years served for murder in Attica’s D-Block, Willie Green, a.k.a. the legendary Dolomite, has become an unlikely father figure to his cellmates. When word brews throughout Attica that a riot is coming, Dolomite has to decide whether to join in or bet on the quickly approaching chance to taste freedom. Honoring the spoken word narratives recited across America by generations of black poets, ToasT is a new play about men trying to live free in a system—and a world—designed to keep them chained.
"Director Elise Thoron has done a remarkable job on 'ToasT'. Performances are so exceptional and the ensemble so smooth that it is difficult to pick out one actor over the other. The language of the play mixes down-to-earth street talk with poetry. Lemon Andersen’s work is a tremendous contribution to the theatrical literary experience." Full Review
"Although at times the inmates come off more as archetypes than fleshed-out characters, the veteran cast imbues all with humanity. Each is worthy of empathy, decency and the freedom to want something more. Were society a little different, they could easily have ended up on the other side of those bars—a moral that still applies today." Full Review
"Although it features complex characters, poetic flourishes and an excellent ensemble cast, at more than 2½ hours, 'ToasT' is weighed down by an excess of slow-paced dialogue and scenes unrelated to the narrative. But with some judicious editing, 'ToasT' may have a future ahead." Full Review
"A promising though far from perfect work, one that needs a good deal of clarification before it can solidify what it's trying to say...In the end, 'Toast' is in desperate need of an editor who can help Andersen clarify his vision and excise what prevents the script from taking off. If that happens, this work could be a shattering game-changer in the world of downtown theater." Full Review
"'ToasT' has taken on a monumental subject in a monumental style. And the production collapses under the weight of its grand intentions. 'ToasT' is equally about inhumane prison conditions and the racist society that bred them...In theory, these thematic strains are not incompatible. Yet in “ToasT” they keep getting in one another’s way." Full Review
"It's too bad that 'ToasT' is so undercooked. Though it features a superb cast Lemon Andersen’s play is far too much in love with its own words to make us care....Director Elise Thoron’s staging fails to up the dramatic ante. In the end, the characters in 'ToasT' seem less like hardened inmates than slam competitors at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe — poetic, but hardly earthshaking." Full Review
See it if you like terrific acting in a show that makes you think. It is a slice of life show that shows a world that Trump can't imagine.
Don't see it if you get frustrated with dialects and accents. You really don't need to understand every word to "get" this remarkable play.
See it if you like intriguing characters and a setting that is still very much unexplored - prison culture, specifically African American.
Don't see it if you're looking for straight dialogue. The show needed condensing and a more focused approach to a fascinating subject.