Dani Frankal is entertained by an eclectic scratch night of new student writing at Buttered Toast’s ‘Baker’s Dozen’.
Thoroughly entertaining throughout, despite a few hiccups here and there, Buttered Toast’s array of new student writing, entitled Baker’s Dozen, showcased what Durham can expect from its next generation of writers. Six scenes, broken up by a magic act, all displayed smart writing and a smooth flow of dialogue. The slight issues with timing of lighting and lines due to actors being brought in last minute did not diminish from what was a very enjoyable night of new student writing.
The first piece of the night was Adam and Eve by Fraser Logue. The premise of this was diving into Adam and Eve’s conversations surrounding what G-d’s plan for them was, as well as the famous issue regarding the poison fruit that the snake enticed Eve to eat. Naomi Cook and Fraser Logue navigated the well written script with ease, with their character dynamic seeming natural and good paced dialogue. The more comedic parts of the sketch were provided by Fraser’s Adam, but he interaction between the two actors worked very well, with a blackout as they both taking a bite out of the infamous poisoned fruit providing a suitably intriguing ending to a well written sketch.
Next came Dragon’s Den by Imogen Usherwood. The concept of Guy Fawkes pitching the gun powder plot to three potential co-conspirators in the style of the popular BBC TV series Dragon’s Denworked surprisingly well. The script was very clever and witty, discussing issues such as had Guy Fawkes thought about marketing and what were his long-term thoughts regarding the gun powder plot. The three dragons played off each other very well, which was heard in the many laughs from the audience. This was followed by Jacob Freda’s Billy No Mates. This sketch was set in a newsroom, with Frankie Haydon-White as a news reporter mocking how her Serbian correspondent colleague, played by Ben Cartwright has no friends and that anyone who he thinks is his friend just thinks of him as a colleague. Both actors played well off each other and used the script well, the good reaction from the audience is a testament to both the actors and Freda’s writing.
To break up the flow of sketches, magician Egor performed for the audience before another of Freda’s pieces, Hummus Sexual. This sketch was definitely one of the highlights of the evening. The writing, physical comedy and accents worked so well together that the audience was in constant fits of laughter. The premise of this sketch was a rich father getting angry at his son for becoming sexually attracted to hummus. This does sound crazy and it is, but it was done in such a way so as to somehow make sense. Ben Cartwright as the father and Thomas Mullan as his son played off each other very well as they argued about Thomas’s characters forays with hummus during his time at university. Freda’s writing allowed for a very natural flow of dialogue as well as a good dynamic between the actors, which Cartwright and Mullan do very well, leaving the audience in tears. It would have been to have seen Cartwright get up and interact with Mullan a little earlier, but seeing the actors enjoying the performance so much added to the comedy even more.
Here there was a reprise of Usherwood’s Dragon’s Den – the pretext of which was Winston Churchill pitching the D-Day landings to the Dragons. The layout of this sketch was similar to the previous one, but due to the actors only being brought in a couple of days prior, lines were a major issue. As well as this, several unplanned blackouts throughout provided some confusion, but mainly laughs from the audience.
The final sketch of the night was Tilly by Issy Flower, a piece about pushing parents and the idea of celebrity. When the parents watched their daughter perform on the X-factor, the shifting of the chairs resulted in a wave of laughter from the audience. The actress who played Tilly did so very well, capturing the voice and mannerisms of a shy child and doing a hysterical impression of the comedian Ronnie Corbett. This was finally followed by musician Joe Norris, who performed well and really took the audience on a journey with him as he told both of his stories.
Overall, Buttered Toast’s Bakers Dozen was full of wonderful writing, brilliant acting and several unintended comedic moments. The intertwining of modern concepts with historical figures, as well as hilarious and over-the-top characters and very good dynamics between actors provided a fantastic and enjoyable evening of emerging talent on the Durham theatre scene.
Baker’s Dozen will be playing in the Doric Suite at Trevelyan College at 7:30pm on Friday 8th March.