The Play I’d have for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Emily Grant reviews 'The Breakfast Club', part of On the Rocks, Venue 1, 19 April 2012

Rating: 4/5As a fan of the '80s classic, I really enjoyed Emma Rettie’s stage adaptation of The Breakfast Club. It's the story of four drastically different teens trapped together in detention on a Saturday who, over the course of the day, become friends. The plot was kept almost exactly the same as the film, something I appreciated; it would be sacrilege to the fans to change it. While there were a few confusing parts in the staging, like Bender miming crawling through the air vents of his school, and the characters rooting around in a purse that was on the ground and out of sight of the audience sitting past the first few rows, it was great; and the actors really made the show.Though his American accent was spotty in places, Joe Cunningham’s energetic performance of Vernon, the teacher everyone loves to hate, was very good, especially in his interactions with Bender, the 'Criminal'. The janitor was a very minor character, but his performance was a bit of a let-down. In talking to the kids he faced away from the audience, always a theatre no-no, and his performance was not as strong as the rest of the cast, though whispers through the theatre community suggest that he was added later than the rest of the cast. Lauren Dunlop, who played the 'Princess', and Dylan James, who portrayed Andrew, the 'Jock', both played their roles close to how they were presented in the film version and reproduced them admirably.Cooper Goldman breathed new life into the character of Bender. Though he didn’t have quite the same brooding demeanour as Emilio Estevez in the film, he made up for that with the volume and energy he kept up throughout the play; the scene where he re-enacted his violent home life was chilling, even to someone like me who has seen the film adaptation many times. Kuffasse Boane’s representation of the 'Kook', Allison, was probably the role that differed the most from the film. The original role was funny, but creepier and a little darker, but Boane's representation was more awkward-funny because of the uncomfortable way she stared at everyone, and how she delivered her lines. At first I wasn’t happy with the portrayal just because it was different, but as the play went on and she had more lines I was eventually won over.Rebecca D’Souza, as Brian the nerd, without a doubt stole the show. It was an interesting choice for the director to cast a girl as Brian, a boy in the film. Instead of switching the role to a female one they kept is as a male one, which I think was a good decision because there are a lot of references to beating up or hurting the nerd that would have seemed inappropriate if applied to a female. A lesser actress might have been swallowed up by the role, which is so memorable in the film, but Rebecca almost instantly won over the audience with her charisma and comic timing.Though there were a few minor quirks in The Breakfast Club that kept it from being flawless, it was a very enjoyable experience and a great adaptation. Emily GrantImage credit – Alex Howarth