STAGE REVIEW: Broken Biscuits @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (11.10.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Grace Hogg-Robinson (Holly), Andrew Reed (Ben) and Faye Christall (Megan) by Matt Humphrey

The fat one. The gay one. The shy one. Losers, nobodies, and destined to be that way forever. Wracked by cosmic angst and doomed to eternal failure in a way only teenagers can be, Megan decides to transform herself, Ben and Holly through sheer force of will into the coolest kids in town. How to do this? The only way how, is how. The only way that ever works. They’ll become a band. An actual band.

On the cusp of adulthood and with a battle of the bands show looming, the trio have one scruffy shed and a scant two months across an ever-shortening summer to master their instruments, hone their craft and take home first prize, transforming themselves from geeks to gods and finding themselves along the way.

But you’ve heard this one before, right? Well sure you have. And writer Tom Wells knows you have too, so instead of using his superb young cast to serve up the neat narrative you’d expect (and with the level of talent on display here, that would have likely been satisfying enough) he delivers an endlessly surprising, relentlessly engaging and heartfelt story, a real crowd pleaser that as broad and as daft as it is nevertheless manages to feel like an entirely authentic spin on a tale told a million times before.

The cast – including the single location shed set itself, which goes through more than its fair share of emotional trauma – is stellar. Faye Christall is bolshy, propulsive and completely lovable as potty-mouthed Megan, the driving force that’ll have a band whether her pals want one or not and musical talent be damned. Grace Hogg-Robinson as Holly, the sweet computer geek with a heart of gold and Andrew Reed as the ever-optimistic Ben are elegant, effortless foils to their strident band leader. Every single one of them shimmers brightly, all having the chance to nail their own killer moment (watch out for the one with the Twix and the Facebook friend request, you’ll need a hankie) in performances littered with glittering grace notes.

Wells and his cast deliver a knockabout, hilarious and brilliantly manipulative show, capturing the absolute essence of being a teenager (and you’ll recognise yourself in one or more of these kids, believe me) and how cool it is to be uncool with your mates in a band. An actual band.

Broken Biscuits is at Live Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 22nd October.

 

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