Printable CopyTOYER
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 27 Jan 2018

Review by John Wells

Summer holidays: time to sleep in, read a trashy novel, eat fish and chips, binge-watch “Twin Peaks”, relax. “Toyer” is excellent holiday fare. It is disposable and fairly insubstantial, but is absorbing and delightful entertainment.

Maude (Stefanie Rossi) rushes home after a workout. As she pours herself a drink and plonks herself down on the sofa, Peter (Marc Clement), a gay neighbour, bangs on the door and begins to chat. He quickly sweet-talks his way into her house. Is he a good Samaritan, a harmless fantasist, or is he a dangerous criminal? Is he the “Toyer”, a psychopath who has been raping and paralyzing women in the Hollywood hills? A tense and multi-layered battle of wills begins.

To really enjoy this play requires a huge suspension of disbelief and a willingness to ignore some massive plot holes. (“Toyer” was written in the early 1990s and some of the unconvincing plot developments are due to the play’s age – a self-aware, smart woman with a mobile phone would easily get avoid the troubles that befall Maude.) But if you surrender to the earnest silliness of the text, this is a wonderfully enjoyable show. At its best, the writing is clever and involving, and the cat-and-mouse game between Maude and Peter is great fun.

Rossi and Clement are confident and relaxed performers, who inhabit their characters with commitment and energy. The acting is outstanding: they play so well against each other, and bring out moments of real tension and sensuality. Tony Knight’s directing is impeccable: the play’s tone and pace are perfectly pitched. Knight allows the story to unfold with clarity and briskness, but gives the actors space for reflection and poignancy.