(Spencer’s article appeared 9/1.)

“I like work,” wrote Jerome K Jerome in Three Men in a Boat. “It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours”.

The playwright Richard Bean evidently took these words to heart when writing his first professionally staged play, Toast, which set his career rolling in fine style at the Royal Court back in 1999.

It’s a good old-fashioned piece in the tradition of David Storey and Arnold Wesker, based on the dramatist’s own experience of working in bread factory in his native Hull when he was 18.

It announced Bean as a bright new talent to watch, a promise this prolific writer has triumphantly fulfilled since then, not least with his smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors.

What’s astonishing is that so many of his distinctive gifts were in place so early in his career, as this excellent and highly welcome revival, directed by Eleanor Rhode and grittily designed by James Turner, abundantly testifies.


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