Review: Breakfast – Independent Aunties

By Crystal Wood

Remount of 2008 show doesn’t quite live up to Toronto theatre hype

Breakfast, playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre until April 4th, confirms something that I suspected all along.

Self-help tapes are evil.

This is not actually a show about breakfast. It’s not really a show about food at all, although I pretty much guarantee you’ll never look at yogurt the same way again. It is a show about releasing our inhibitions, but it only partially succeeds.

This remount of a show by Independent Aunties follows a woman who turns to a self-help audiotape to improve her dull life (and if having chocolate pudding for breakfast is really a sign of a dull life, I am in trouble.)

Marnie’s morning picks up when she listens to a self-help tape (voiced by Evalyn Parry) that starts talking back to her. With the voice’s goading, which becomes more and more sinister, Marnie reflects on her past, admits to her fears and eventually lets loose in a rather bacchanalian ending.

Marnie is played by Karin Randoja, who commits fully to the part, giving Marnie a childlike voice to accompany her naïve world view. She draws out all the relatable parts of her character, making Marnie into somebody we all know, or have been. Anna Chatterton and Parry are also good in their roles. Parry is alternately soothing and menacing as “The Voice.” Anna Chatterton is largely silent, seen floating through the production as “The Assistant” until she begins to speak, giving voice to Marnie’s inner thoughts. (Although her microphone filter makes her sound a bit too much like the creepy little psychologist from Poltergeist.)

My show partner for Breakfast was Anamaria. This was the first time we went to a play together, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t think Breakfast won her over to theatre. In fact, at one point in the middle when the lights went down, she leaned over to me and whispered, “I don’t like this.” Sorry, Anamaria.

After the performance, we tried to figure out where the show lost Anamaria, who couldn’t pinpoint her feelings exactly. What we did determine was that the connections between the different parts of the show didn’t feel warranted. The beginning is strong and funny at times, the middle is intriguing and haunting and the ending is sexy and thought-provoking, but the paths between them feel a little muddled. Any sense of story is dropped entirely in the last 10 minutes, when the show changes from narrative to performance art.

In the end, this play still feels like a workshop – disappointing once you learn it is, in fact, a remount.


Playing until April 4, 2010 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander)

Showtimes: Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2:30pm

Ticket price is up to $29, with pay-what-you-can on Sundays. The box office is open one hour before showtime. or call 416-975-8555 for tickets.

Photo of Karin Randoja playing Marnie