THEATRE REVIEW: The Breakfast Club

Cassandra Griffin, Daniel Allsop, James Coates, Annie Wilson and Luke Baker feature in The Breakfast Club. Picture: Ryan OslandTHE BREAKFAST CLUB

Presented by: One Serve Productions

Venue: DAPA Theatre, Hamilton (0416252446)

Season: Ends Sunday

WRITER-director John Hughes’ script for the cult movie The Breakfast Club has been adapted worldwide for thousands of stage productions since the film was released in 1985, and this 30th anniversary presentation shows why it has been so popular.

The title group is a Saturday detention class of five students who are required by a senior teacher to stay in the high-school library all day and write an essay about the misdemeanours that led to their weekend confinement.

The tale, which only occasionally moves to other venues such as a locker room and the teacher’s office, shows how the students, who had previously hardly known each other, gradually discard their protective shields and discuss their lives and hopes for the future.

The diversity of the characters, with the students noted at the story’s beginning as seen by the teacher as ‘‘a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal’’, requires solid performances from the young actors who are virtually on stage for the whole time. And this production delivers those performances.

Initially most of the five make derogatory remarks or play mean tricks on each other, in scenes that have a dark humour, but by the afternoon they are sitting on the floor together and making moving revelations that have the audience viewing them sympathetically.

The ‘‘brain’’, Brian (James Coates), is at first mainly quiet, but when he finally unwinds he reveals that far from having a perfect home life he also has problems. Similarly, the ‘‘princess’’, Claire (Annie Wilson), is far from royalty in her family. And the other girl in the group, Allyson (Cassandra Griffin), dressed in cover-all black, with her hair hanging over her face, and seated alone in a corner, eventually shows herself to be far from a ‘‘basket case’’.

The ‘‘athlete’’, Andrew (Luke Baker), hoping to get away from detention early enough to take part in a wrestling bout, and the ‘‘criminal’’, John Bender (Daniel Allsop), who initially hinders, then helps, the others, likewise reveal a need for companionship.

The two adult characters, while only seen occasionally, also have very human sides.

The teacher, Richard Vernon (Alex Faber), while determined to get his way, errs in his treatment of the detainees, keeping a distance from them, rather than trying to find out what led to the behaviour for which they have been locked away. And the school janitor, Carl (Jakes Gillies), shows himself in conversations with Vernon to be more observant of the ways of the students.

Director David Murray, who also designed the realistic set, keeps the tale moving briskly along, with 1980s-style music used in the short blackouts as the venue changes. The costumes also have very much the flavour of the story’s era.