CUPPERS: The Breakfast Club (St. Catz)

Fri 11th – Sat 12th November 2011


Alex Fisher

at 01:23 on 12th Nov 2011



St. Catz should be very pleased with themselves – ‘The Breakfast Club’ is an absolute star in this years’ Cuppers. From the very beginning, we are given strong punchy dialogue, exquisite direction and that marvellous eighties American high school feel with none of the cliché that comes with it. This is one performance I could simply watch over and over again. Adapted from the film of the same name, the cast do well to condense the narrative into half an hour, without losing any of the salient features.

However there are one or two points I have issue with – firstly, accent did have the propensity to wander off in places but was maintained well as a whole. Also, although I have nothing against profanity on stage, I did find that it was a little over done in places marring the reality of the play. Aside from this, the choreography to Blondie’s smash hit “Call Me” was a sure highlight of the show – completely unexpected, but packed with humour and fun.

The use of lighting was well thought out, allowing simple scene changes, which conveyed the passing of time brilliantly. Perhaps it was best used in an interface between Bender (Jack Graham) and Vernon (Benedict Cohen) effortlessly highlighting the wrath of the latter. Having said this, whilst Benedict Cohen’s direction is near faultless, I found his portrayal of Vernon a slight weak link – his anger towards the students, in particular Bender, was not wholly believable.

Jack Graham excelled at his portrayal of the class clown – a character who through his love for mischief was instantly recognisable and dislikeable. Yet as the play progressed, by drawing attention to his plighted home life we saw a different side to him; one that we could sympathise with. Similarly, Heather Young (Claire) struck the balance between “daddy’s girl” and honest woman just as well, and was a real pleasure to watch.

In addition, the performances by Molly Brown (Allison) and Olivia Peacock (Bryony) were also of a high standard. Initially, Molly appeared to be the “silent one” but her confession as a compulsive liar in the second scene made her an increasingly interesting character. The point where Heather shared beauty tips with Molly towards the end of the play was a nice touch – removed of awkwardness, one felt there was a real connection between the two of them. Olivia as the class geek did well to avoid stereotype breathing life into the role coupled with some marvellous bits of humour at the beginning. Jocelyn Turton (Andrew) as the football hunk was perhaps a little awkward at times, but overall did justice to the role.

All in all, I could not help but leave the theatre smiling. Whether it was down to the superb cast, the retro vibe or both, ‘The Breakfast Club’ scores very highly in my estimations. Their bow at the end was well deserved.



Xandra Burns; 13th Nov 2011; 10:55:12

As a huge fan of the original film, I wasn't sure what to expect from a half-hour student interpretation, but was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was. As a super-critical American, I was surprised by how great the accents were, particularly from Heather Young as Claire and Jack Graham as Bender. It's a shame that Jocelyn Turton's effort at sounding American seemed to be the reason for the awkwardness Alex points out in the review above, as any type of accent is an ambitious task, especially for the rushed process that is Cuppers.

The main problem I have with the production is that too often it seems as if it is simply copying the film without adding its own originality, particularly in the beginning. It is a good choice for a Cuppers entry in that the roles are evenly split, allowing each actor plenty of stage time, but there isn't much room for them to display their own acting ability, as their performances sometimes blend into re-hashings of the original ones - not necessarily criticism of their acting abilities but of the ambitious choice of play. I have to give particular credit to Molly Brown as Allison, however, for providing the most fresh portrayal of any of the characters, a fine tribute to Ally Sheedy's original with a new spin on Allison's personality.

Overall fun, nostalgic, and neatly-executed, I had a great time watching this show.

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