Toothpaste Kisses Takes You on a Rollercoaster of Emotions

As I was waiting to go into the auditorium to see the show, I was introduced to someone who had seen the production in Bracknell  She loved it so much that she came to Henley specially to see it again. Personal recommendations are always the best, but to say that this play should  come with a serious Kleenex warning is an understatement.

Toothpaste Kisses was written, performed and directed by 22-year-old Keir Buist, via his production company, Three Dot Theatre.   Quite a feat for someone so young.   The play tells the age-old tale of Liam, a slightly awkward boy, who meets Leah, a very pretty girl and lives change. Raise the stakes by adding a surprise baby with Liam suddenly, tragically finding himself a single dad, and the formula is suddenly changed. The character of Liam is even younger than Keir is now. He demonstrates this in the writing with the undaunted enthusiasm that is often shown by ones so young, that “everything will be alright!”  when the reality is that things are very far from right.

The set was an eclectic mix of what seemed on the surface to be random rubbish, with a bed in the middle of it. The kind of surroundings that you would expect to see in a teenage boy’s bedroom.  However, every piece of “junk” was deftly turned into a hospital room, a car park, a court room, and a good living space.

The production lurched us from extreme highs, with Liam documenting the stages of the development of their baby – the excitement when Leah’s water breaks, the tension of the birth – to the deepest sloughs of human despair, all which Keir handled with the greatest of confidence.  He could also transform from his sweet character Liam, to cruel so called school “mates” who taunted and goaded him to dragging him deeper into his heartbreak. The passion that Keir demonstrated when the baby is taken away by Social Services had tears rolling down my cheeks, and not just me, you could hear a pin drop,  I swear the audience were not breathing.  He dragged us through his hell with him, never once letting go of his grip on the audience.  He wrung us out.

There was a delightful surprise in the shape of 13-year-old Sophie Abbot, who, years later in the narrative, suddenly burst on to the stage with all the energy that a child of that age should have as the young “Evie” – the surprise baby. She lifted the audience – and we collectively breathed a sigh of relief – She was there!  She was with him and he was a confident, mature dad! Sophie was very pretty and bright. but very natural on stage. but tended to turn away from us to deliver quite some important lines, so we could not quite hear it.  But hey! She is 13! And she was great!

If there was anything that I would criticise, it would be one or two things in the narrative – Leah’s parents arrived – but did not seem to want to have anything to do with the baby? And I am quite sure the hospital would never have allowed anyone to take a new-born home on a bus! A taxi maybe, but not a bus.  Again, I would put those minor things down to Keir being just 22.  It was a shame about those two small points, because everything else was so credible – so credible in fact that it felt as though it was autobiographical, but I was assured not.  These small points are very much my constructive thoughts and I hope that by the time Toothpaste Kisses gets to the Edinburgh Fringe next year, it will be a flawless winner! I wish Keir and Three Dot Theatre the very best of luck.

By the way, I saw the lady from Bracknell again at the end, and she assured me that it was once again, worth the investment in Kleenex!

Julie Huntingdon


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