She's on Toast

Peter Mortimer

Cloud Nine

The Low Lights, North Shields

From 04 March 2014 to 06 March 2014

Review by Peter Lathan

Multiply Eugene Ionesco by N F Simpson, blend in a teaspoon of Artaud and enrobe in The Goon Show and you have Peter Mortimer's latest excursion into absurdist theatre, She's on Toast.

Does that concatenation of unconnected metaphors obfuscate or reveal? Both? Good!

When asked, in an interview with himself in the programme, what the play is about, Peter Mortimer replies, "About 40 minutes." That's actually accurate. More or less.

Equally helpful, too, is his answer to the question "What is the hidden message?" "I don't know. It's hidden."

For the first ten minutes two bowler-hatted, pipe-smoking men in suits, Sparkle (the skeletal Robbie Lee Hurst) and Trupper (the rather more substantial Dylan Mortimer), exchange insults, often of a scatalogical nature although none link to the ones before or after, politely deferring to each other so each has equal opportunity to insult - and be insulted. Then they are joined by Box (Christina Dawson), who is both a box and a ?doctor?, who sets them an impossible test - which, of course, they fail. One question, for example, is "What is the opposite of string?"

Weird? Yes. Off the wall? Yes? Barking mad? Yes. But the play has an internal logic which makes a kind of sense which carries us along and, in the process, makes us laugh loud and long.

The three company members, under the often playful direction of Neil Armstrong, handle the very demanding text - where there is no logical thread, even that most basic acting skill, line learning, becomes problematic! - with aplomb and make the totally outrageous sound completely natural. The packed audience in this most tiny of spaces, although somewhat bemused, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. As did this reviewer.