With the recent growth in hipster trends, 80s pop culture has never been more prevalent (since the decade itself, of course). With this new interest in the old, the university’s arts scene is no stranger to its influences, having recently seen the debut of Sam Ebner-Landy’s stage adaptation of the 1985 cult classic film The Breakfast Club as part of the University of Manchester Drama Society’s Manchester In-Fringe Theatre Awards season.
On a long Saturday in 1984, one teacher and four unwilling Shermer High School students find themselves stuck indoors for a day’s worth of detention. When asked to write an essay about who the students think they are, they unwittingly discover that the ‘brain’, ‘athlete’, ‘basket case’, ‘princess’ and ‘criminal’ have more things in common than they ever knew. The Breakfast Club presents a typical journey of self-discovery, packaged in an atypical way; over one day, in one room.
Needless to say, audience members flocked to see this exciting new piece of drama, and the attention was well-deserved. The difficulty with film-to-stage adaptations often seems to lie in the task of staying ‘true’ to the source material, both in terms of narrative and spirit. In his role as adaptor and director, Ebner-Landy succeeded in accurately bringing the story to life with astounding attention to detail, whilst maintaining 1980s Zeitgeist, and the essence of the coming-of-age genre. To die-hard fans of The Breakfast Club, this MIFTA performance could certainly have been the perfect homage to the film, however it might have been interesting to see Ebner-Landy take more of a risk and put a little more of his own flair into the adaptation.
Once again, the Drama Society displayed more of its impressive range of acting talent. Each member of this ensemble cast took on their role with incredible sensitivity and boldness. As the play’s unconventional protagonist, Bender, Ollie Kaiper-Leach took on the most complex role. In all aspects of performance, he put across every ounce of Bender’s humour, anger and vulnerability in a moving and candid way. Similarly, the other members of this ensemble cast took turns to encourage laughter and tears from the audience, building up delicate layers of emotion before the ultimate realisation of the plot.
The Breakfast Club represents another triumph for the Drama Society, thus maintaining its stellar reputation for producing plays of a near-professional standard. Both the thoughtful direction of Ebner-Landy and the acting skills of this staggeringly talented cast made this MIFTA play a production to remember.
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