Review: ‘Purple on Toast’ episode 2

The next instalment of ‘Purple on Toast’ has been brought to our homes this week, much to our enjoyment. The collaboration between Buttered Toast and Purple Radio continues to impress, showcasing the incredible artistic talent Durham has to offer. So sit back, relax, and why not take a listen? It’s only ten minutes long, after all. 

Opening the podcast we have ‘Statue’, written and directed by Tom Murray. Murray’s witty style tells the story of a statue (a real-life statue, to be precise), and the difficulties he faces in keeping character (or just keeping very, very still). Like Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ with humour and a Yorkshire dialect thrown in for good measure, Murray’s story, no doubt brought immense enjoyment to listeners at home. 

Bringing the witty story to life was Rory Leventhorpe, whose Yorkshire accent and vocal expression came together to tell the tale. Although the accent did, at times, falter – I was impressed by his delivery. With elongated vowel sounds, definite article reduction (‘t’ crowd’), and H-dropping, Leventhorpe carried the dialect well. Perhaps more northern exclamations in the script would have made this even more amusing (ee bah gum!), but it was, nonetheless, still very enjoyable. Leventhorpe demonstrated skilful variety with his modulation, using pitch and volume to create comedy. Combined with Murray’s puns (‘I’d be moved’, for instance), this monologue was very amusing and enjoyable to listen to from start to finish. 

The second monologue, ‘Until Break Time’ (written by Ryan King and directed by Dragos Farcas), centres around a student being called into the deputy principal’s office. Thomas McCubbin gave a very convincing performance as the student. With a low intonation he carries throughout the performance, he managed to convey a certain nonchalant irritability, with hints of aggression and sinisterness. His monotone voice worked well with King’s script, especially when describing the events that led him into the principal’s office (no spoilers). But his voice also had moments of immense emotion when describing his aloneness in the office, and when he raised his pitch to imitate his mother. It was hard to know how one felt towards this character, and that’s precisely what made it such a compelling performance. 

This piece had a much gloomier tone that the first one, which created a nice moment of contrast for the listener. Ryan King’s writing created a journalistic tone, almost as if the student was still sat in the principal’s office, reporting the events to the audience. King’s writing drew the monologue to a close in a dramatic and almost unsettling way, complemented by the gloomy tone of McCubbin. The audio in the second monologue also had a certain muffled quality to it, almost as if it had been recorded on a phone. This created the mood and atmosphere of a school setting, as if the student was recording himself speaking into his phone (well that’s how I saw it, anyway).  

These podcasts have been very enjoyable, and I have been impressed by the immense talent Durham has to offer, from the actors, the writers, the directors and the designers. Telling an entire story in the space of a few minutes, with just an audio recording and a few sound effects at your disposal is by no means easy – but in this collaboration between Purple Radio and Buttered Toast, they have successfully shown that it can, indeed, be done. 

Tune in for episode three of ‘Purple on Toast’, next Thursday on the Purple Radio Spotify page.  

By Josh Goodwin

Buttered Toast logo design by Jasmine Lo and Jonny Strutt. 

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