ComedyDramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Broken Biscuits – Live Theatre, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Writer: Tom Wells

Director: James Grieve

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Three school friends meet in Megan’s (Faye Christall) shed over the summer to try and change their lives.

We’re nobodies… I’m all fat and gobby, you’re brainy, weird and brainy and quiet and Ben’s like, you know.

So says Megan, who endeavors to change their existence before they start college.

The plan is to form a band in nine weeks, be cool, and make something of their non-eventful lives, even though none of them play an instrument or sing. They meet every Friday and their characters are revealed over the weeks. The hour and a half performance with no intervalmaintains an unrelenting pace throughout.

The broken biscuits they eat are reflective their lives, far from complete. Megan is the most broken, shown in her aggressive attack on driving the others on; attackbeing the best form of defense.

The start is fast, furious and incessant, lead by Megan whose speed of delivery initially makes it difficult to follow. This is her stage debut, previous work being in film and television. There is a good contrast with Holly (Grace Hogg-Robinson) whose speech is measured, controlled and sedate, as is her character. Ben (Andrew Reed) adds further calmness with his role as a young homosexual who is struggling to fit into society.

The three actors effortlessly create an intimate environment which invites you to be part of their world. The set design (Lily Arnold) adds great atmosphere, as does the lighting (Joshua Pharo). All of which combine well with the sound (Dominic Kennedy), particularly in one explosive scene change.

This play features three 16-year-olds, whose immaturity and conversation seems more fitting for younger teenagers. Megan’s character is central and forceful, Ben very subtle and underplayed, while Holly shows the most development.

The playwright, Tom Wells, an Oxford English graduate from Kilnsea, East Yorkshire, always wanted to write and when unemployed he joined a free playwriting course at his local Playhouse. He wrote his first full-length play in 2009, Me As A Penguin, subsequently going to write nearly 30 plays and Pantomimes, winning the most promising playwright prize at The Critical Circle Awards in 2011.

Fittingly, this is a joint Live and Paines Plough production. Live, established 1973, is internationally recognized as one of the great new writing theatres, while Paines Plough, established in 1974, is the UK’s National theatre of new plays, commissioning, producing and touring them.

This world premiere should not be confused with the award-winning play of the same title by Margaret Connell.

The youthful, packed audience responded well with a lot of appreciative laughter which comes not only from the textbut its delivery, staging and direction (James Grieve).

Sometimes it’s nice to sparkle.

Says Ben, and this play endeavors to.

Runs until 22 October 2016 | Image: Contributed

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