cast of broken biscuits

Broken Biscuits

Birmingham Rep Door

*****

TOM Wells is an East Yorkshire playwright with a love of music. He is no stranger to Birmingham REP, with FOLK performed earlier in the year to critical acclaim.

In his current production with Paines Plough and Live Theatre, Broken Biscuits is the story of looking forward to the unknown future. It is a coming of age story in which three teenagers, Megan, Holly and Ben are about to leave school to become college students.

The trio are misfits at school and tell us that they are the ‘losers’. They rely on each other and use Megan’s garden shed as their main hub of congregation. The setting of the play is at the end of the school year, going into the first year of college to start a complete new step of education.

For Megan, Holly and Ben, it is an opportunity to break away from the labels and conceptions of school peers to create new personae. Megan is desperate to be the ‘cool’ girl she never was at school and is determined to bring Holly and Ben into her club. As part of her personality reform, she has a grand idea to start a band and buys a drum kit from the local charity shop.

From Megan’s drum kit, their band is formed. It is Megan’s passport to finally being part of the cool gang in college. She is so headstrong on rebranding herself and making sure people no longer see her as a ‘loser’ that she signs them up to an Open Mic night at college.

Supportive friends Holly and Ben are not sure about how they feel about changing their personalities, but offer support by playing background melodies with guitar and vocals.

Looking through the teenage perspective, Wells tells the story of being comfortable within ones skin, no matter how the world perceives you. Bossy and headstrong Megan is played by Faye Christall who is impeccable within the role.

She never takes no for an answer and is determined to make her misfit friends see the benefits to break free from their usual social labels. With a dream of the future and a burning desire to change her personality, in doing so, she unconsciously changes the dynamic of the group. She becomes a dictator and no longer recognises the importance of individuality.

Holly is played by Grace Hogg-Robinson who also features in the regular role of Beth Kennedy in BBC’s The Coroner. As the shy and intelligent friend, she is overshadowed by Megan’s loud personality. When her talent for singing is revealed, Holly slowly starts to find a new confidence until she blooms in the final part of the play. Hogg-Robinson gives a sweet charm to Holly and the audience are instantly warmed by her on-stage presence.

Andrew Reed plays Ben, who throughout school was ridiculed because of sexuality. Reed captures a wonderful essence within Ben and truly creates a loveable character. Reed and Christall have a particularly moving moment in which he explains in song about his inner emotions.

The beautifully detailed set design by Lily Arnold showed the back garden shed of where the trio rehearsed. With meticulous detail including tools and a rickety roof, we have the sense that this is their world only. To those on the outside, they are the misfits, but in safety within the walls of the shed, Megan, Holly and Ben are free to display their true personalities, personalities very much hidden in the outside world. Bright spotlights shine outwards and create flashes at each scene change, alluding to high energised concerts and the glamour of the stage.

Wells has a natural ability to make people see the most beautiful elements within the broken world around us. Each character is there to support and accentuate the personality of the other. For what each individual might see as a flaw, the others can see a positive that is only to be celebrated. Wells is one-of-a-kind and injects his love for life, people and music to uplift the hearts of audiences. To 03-12-16.

Elizabeth Halpin

30-11-16 

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