DCU Drama’s ‘The Breakfast Club’

Cathal O'Rourke, Shane McGinley and Donnacha Tynan star in DCU Drama's production of The Breakfast Club. The show was performed on Monday 10th April in the auditorium on the St.Patricks campus in DCU. Credit: Caoimhe McGowan

In the wake of DCU Drama winning Best Society, the society’s fifth and final show of the academic year had a big reputation to live up to. It did not disappoint.

The second contemporary play of the year and easily the most intimate, The Breakfast Club is a riotous triumph from its earliest moments performed in the St Pat’s Auditorium.

On a Saturday morning five teenagers gather together in a library for detention. Each represents a high-school stereotype; a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess and a criminal.

Under the not-so-watchful eye of the authoritative Vice Principal Vernon, these five kids with seemingly nothing in common slowly learn to look past their respective stereotypes and see instead the person underneath.

Fans of the film will know that taking on this classic is an unenviable challenge. The balancing of tone between zany comedy and angst-riddled pathos is a difficult task which this production achieves wonderfully.

Despite the movie mostly taking place in a single location, translating it to the stage is no mean feat. Interludes both musical and drug-induced are difficult to insert into a stage production.

Huge credit must be given to Director Michael O’Keefe and Producer Maeve Martin for making the adaptation feel effortless. Some slick lighting and clever scene structuring enables the play to do justice to the movie’s most iconic scenes.

There are just six characters in The Breakfast Club, and being part of such a small cast puts a lot of pressure on each of the actors. Fortunately each are strong enough performers to rise to the occasion.

Picking a standout performance in such a strong ensemble cast is no easy task. Sarah Kelly, Shane McGinley and Sean Carey are outstanding in their respective parts.

Donncha Tynan is a strong presence throughout as the nominal central character Bender, while Niamh Whelan brings subtlety and nuance to a part that could easily descend into parody.

Yet the show is conclusively stolen by Cathal O’Rourke as the nerdy Brian. His comedic timing is exemplary, backed up with a fine dramatic turn in the play’s later scenes.

The only big criticism worth levelling at the play is that it cuts certain small scenes from its source. As the movie is less than a hundred minutes long, cutting anything for the sake of keeping the running time down was unnecessary.

Yet when the biggest complaint about a production is that there was not enough of it, those involved are clearly doing a very good job.

An Irish university might seem an odd fit for the quintessential 1980’s American teen movie, but the John Hughes classic’s subject matter is very much relevant to young people in this country today.

Unwanted pressure being mounted on youths trying their best by oblivious parents is a theme that resonates with many people of this generation.

The great irony is, of course, that those involved in The Breakfast Club unquestionably made their parents proud with this one night showcasing of their dedication and talent.

Bríon Hoban