It’s been thirty years since what is considered one of the greatest coming of age/high school films ever made: The Breakfast Club was made. An adaptation of this classic comes to life again at Montreal’s Mainline Theatre, with an extremely creative and competent cast. This is the story of five teenagers, who come together under detention one Saturday afternoon for being outcasts, non-conforming and just being themselves. The detention is the perfect metaphor to confine the freedom of these five people, who don’t fit in, who don’t serve to further the stereotype of the normal. While things have changed in the past three decades and the world does embrace difference far better than it did, yet we still tend to hail our modern day Breakfast Clubs (aka Glee) as questioning the status quo and recognizing that we are all not the same normal. Perhaps things haven’t changed that much?
Created through minimalist production design, we find the five sitting in their classroom, questioning, wondering why each of them is even there. The disciplinarian professor stomps in and out of the space, reining them in, ensuring that normative compliance remains unquestioned. But in all of this the five begin to first reluctantly, then empathetically open up to each other, finding commonalities in their life experiences.
Sofian Lahyanssa playing Bender leads the pack as the bad ass bully. The actor took some time to find his comfort zone in the role, but then excelled throughout the rest of the performance. He is the product of a violent home and that manifests through his tough and aggressive exterior, with a vulnerable childlike emotional self. David Hudon (as Brian) is the resident geek, who revels in all cerebral, academic indulgences, and oftentimes engages in laughing at his own wit, for his humor is not for everyone. Teneisha Collins (as Claire) is the spoilt rich brat, who had everything on a silver platter. She wears her exterior rather well, only to crumble with the confession of an onerous childhood that required living up to the image of what she was supposed to be. Johan DeNora (as Andrew) is the sport-jock of the lot and his calling in life was to excel and be number one at everything. His father’s emotional violence left him aspiring for excellence, but at the cost of his own earthy desires.
My favourite was the quirky and hilarious job done by Hannah Dorozio (playing Allison). She assumed the role of Allsion with such ease that her outcast oddity, no more than the others, stood out both through her acting prowess and her self-depreciating performance. She had the right humor cues and did fabulously with her silence and her physical histrionics.
The story is minimally told and focusses on bringing together these kids and how they navigate discoveries of each other’s lives, families and the similarities they share. Ironically, once all the family secrets are out of the closets, they seem more normal than ever.
The weakest link was Patrizio Sanzari (playing the professor Mr. Vernon), while his attempts at reprimanding and disciplining the kids was passable, his attempted character resolution towards the end seemed forced and unconvincing.
I have to give special mention to Nick Fontaine (playing Carl the janitor) who didn’t go unnoticed, regardless of his sporadic short monologues.
I think normal has become such a problematic world, because it tends to assume that there is one mainstream idea that is better and overarching. More than just the questioning of this normal, I think the Breakfast Club helps remind us that it never really existed and is made up simply to pretend that it’s easier to live when pretending to be someone else. Bender, Brian, Claire, Andrew and Allison clearly demonstrated that it’s far from the truth.
The Breakfast Club, A D2 Production is playing at Mainline Theatre, 3997 St-Laurent, is playing until March 6. 8 p.m., second show at 2 p.m. on Sunday. $15/10. Tickets at door or HERE.