Burnt Toast, a debut piece of absurdist theatre penned by Guy Hodgkinson, promises theatre-goers a refreshingly bizarre take on relationships, jam-packed into an hour’s performance involving vienetta, oranges and…. well, you guessed it! Burnt Toast. This Edinburgh Fringe production graces the festival stage everyday from 17:05 at the Assembly Rooms on George Street. Performance dates: 18th – 26th August.
Burnt toast revolves around examining the complex relationships of Pol; a married woman, typically seen venting her frustration at her boring sex life after 15 years of marriage, that she happens to discuss with everyone except her partner. (Naturally). Throw a long-lost mother into the “plot-line” mix, and there you have what is essentially the entire premise of this production.
Laure Stockley’s rendition of Pol really brought the character life, with her talent particularly coming across in her evocative facial expressions and voice intonation. However, this talent was sadly unmatched by her counterpart Al, played by Jaz Hutchins, who seemed only able to play the angry and sarcastic scenes with true conviction. The supporting cast of the two waiters, played by Johnny Fairclough and Ciaran Byrne, also made a humorous duo, which provide a light relief during some of the more intense scenes.(think 118-118 duo moustached duo)
Given the limited scope of performance space, the cast did incredibly well in terms of adapting the stage to suit the various scene transitions, notably achieved through effective lighting and selection of music.
The only thing stopping this production from having scored higher was the repetitive swearing which, whilst effective, was entirely overdone. As a critic, when I see this, I begin to wonder if the actors have a limited word bank of expression or are just improvising (badly), which is a shame given the raw potential of these performers. With an already crass subject matter, the excessive swearing came across as a bit tasteless, if not at times ineffective, as it became less and less emphatic.
Profanities aside, this production remains ironically true to its title; like a piece of burnt toast, that would be more appealing if you just scraped off a couple of bits here and there.