Holden Street Theatres, Tue Oct 22
The Breakfast Club was one of my favourite movies growing up. Like many of my generation, I was a huge fan of its writer, John Hughes, who also wrote and directed or produced Pretty in Pink, 16 Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Some Kind of Wonderful, among many other films. Hughes was the voice of disaffected youth in the 1980s and his work from this era is still recognised as some of the best of its kind.
Going into Matt Byrne’s production of The Breakfast Club it’s fair to say I was afraid and on the defensive: would Byrne ruin this clever, insightful and gritty film?
The sell-out crowd didn’t seem to have any of my reservations. Jamie Hornsby as Brian ‘The Brain’ got immediate and frequent laughs, and physically and emotionally embodied his character throughout. James King as Bender ‘The Criminal’, was outstanding, bringing swag and brooding violence to his role as the tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
Most striking, though, was just how well this material translated: both from film to stage and from 1985 to 2014. Byrne’s adaptation was well paced, well designed and true to its source material. And the story – of five young people in Saturday detention together, cast as stereotypes by their school Principal, who gradually reveal themselves to each other – is just as relevant today as it was in the 1980s. The message, that we are all many things not just one thing, and that we all have much more in common than might appear on the outside, resonates and still feels important.
As the final act drew to a close I felt quite emotional. The performances had impacted me. My memories had not been tarnished and my understanding of the story as an adult had been enhanced by this live production.
Just one quibble: it has to be said that the American accents adopted by the cast were not flawless and it was a distraction at times. I wondered if this play could have worked with Australian accents. Certainly the story is universal. But this is a small flaw in what was otherwise a great production.
by Lynette Washington
The Breakfast Club continues at the Holden Street Theatres until Sat Nov 8.