Written by 8:28 am Bold Theatre, La Palma, Review, Theater, Uncategorized

Toyer @ Bold Theatre – Review

Photo credit: by L. Hill-Mears

Written by Daniella Litvak

In her Director’s Note, Amanda Zarr recounts how she discovered Toyer. She was at the Samuel French bookstore in Los Angeles and asked an employee about plays he wished were produced more often. He directed her to Toyer.   Given the true crime-obsessed times we live in, where it seems like a new movie, TV show, or podcast belonging to the genre is announced nearly every other day, it is surprising Toyer is not more often produced and performed.


Toyer is a psychological thriller about manipulation. It is set in a time and place not so distant from we are – 1980s/90s Los Angeles, California. Maude Christopher (Keiko Elizabeth) is a psychiatrist having a difficult time lately. She has been treating the victims of the Toyer – a notorious predator who seduces and paralyzes women. She meets Peter Matson (Austin Springer), who, after helping Maude with her car troubles, keeps barging into her life and invading her home. The mind games proceed from there…

Watching Toyer is like riding a rollercoaster. The first act is the first hill – the suspense and anticipation keep building and building. It’s intense – almost too intense. Since the experience is so unnerving, the first act feels like it goes on for a little too long. The second act is the rollercoaster from the point you descend the first hill. The shifting power dynamics between Maude and Peter are the twists and turns. Just when you think things will be safe, there’s another drop. It’s also intense, but there are more tension-relieving moments, so it’s not as overwhelming as the first act.

Toyer is a two-person play.   The roles are emotionally demanding and require an openness to being vulnerable.   Both Elizabeth and Springer adeptly handle the challenges each role brings. Individually they execute compelling performances. Together, their chemistry is whoa. Given the context, you don’t want to feel hot and bothered, but you can’t help but feel the heat between the two of them.


The Bold Theatre is an ideal venue for Toyer. The small theater space wins half the battle for creating the right atmosphere. Psychological thrillers are designed to get into the audience’s heads and make them feel as disoriented as the characters. When you are mere feet away from the actors, there’s no emotional distance between you and the story.

The set is a combination living room and kitchen. As a design, it’s generic.   (Although, the phone and cassette player automatically clue you in as to when the play is set.)  The generic nature of the set designs feels like a necessary sacrifice. A more detailed set design could have been distracting.

Final Thoughts:

The Bold Theatre’s mission is to tell stories that generate conversation. Their production of Toyer fulfills the objective. As Director Amanda Zarr discovered back at Samuel French, the story stays in your head. The material is difficult and definitely intended for mature audiences.   But it is also a show with a lot to say and gives you much food for thought.

8.1 Overall
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  Good Show! OCR Recommended!

April 14 – 30, 2023

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