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Blueberry Toast review at Soho Theatre, London – ‘an entertainingly cartoonish satire’

Adrianna Bertola and Matt Barkley in Blueberry Toast at Soho Theatre, London. Photo: Helen Maybanks

In a white picket-fenced suburb, Barb (Gala Gordon) is making Walt (Gareth David-Lloyd) her special blueberry toast. It has been said it’s a breakfast to die for.

Mary Laws’ uncanny play was previously staged in Los Angeles and Chicago in 2016. Her writing captures the nastiness behind the fake smiles of an American family. The cheery sunshine of Walt and Barb’s marriage is shown to be a veneer via their televisual performances. With nearly all the drama played outwards, as if to camera, any true intimacy is removed, an effect heightened by Steve Marmion’s direction.

Everything is laid on nauseatingly thick: from the couple’s syrupy repeated chirping of “Good morning dear!” to the ear-splitting ping of the toaster. The hyper-reality is accentuated by Anthony Lamble’s sitcom-style set which feels suitably cold and creepy, though ultimately comes to feel like the set of a Hammer horror.

Gordon and David-Lloyd have some hilarious moments depicting the American Dream gone horribly wrong but although the violence is intentionally cartoonish, it blunts the satire.

It is their offspring who are truly unnerving; Matt Barkley’s Jack is a grinning, malevolent force whilst, as Jill, Adrianna Bertola demonstrates that’s she a name to watch out for.

As the kids perform an increasingly bizarre play-within-a-play, Walt echoes the thoughts of the audience: “What a strange play, what do you think it means?”

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Verdict
An uncanny and entertainingly cartoonish satire on American values  
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