Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

Inspired by his 10-year-old daughter’s plaintive observation that she wasn’t one of the cool kids at school, writer and director, Ben Harrison decided to take the iconic eighties movie, The Breakfast Club, and reinvent it for the modern-day.

Scottish theatre company Grid Iron then hung out with a hundred teenagers the length and breadth of the country to explore what today’s cool kids, pretty preppy popular ones, jocks and geeks looked like. And The Brunch Club is the result.

A bunch of freshers pitch up for The Brunch Club‘s version of a detention session. You know the format from here. They have nothing in common. They bond over drink, drugs and rock and roll and they realise that maybe etc etc.

Harrison’s production fizzes with energy. He makes fantastic use of the site-specific space (Holyrood Road – not either of the regular Pleasance venues – beware!) with a simple but perfectly art-directed set. Kathryn Weaving also designed the costumes and they’re pitch-perfect for 2019. The soundtrack occasionally strays into Hot Dub Time Machine¬†territory but it’s exactly what the script needs to shake this story into life.
This production is part of Pleasance Futures, a programme designed to support people starting out in the arts. In a such a fiercely competitive industry, it’s a total delight to see so many home-grown actors in a professional show in the Fringe. The cast are all delightful but Jamie McGregor is a perfect Bad Boy with a well hidden chink in his armour, Rhys Watson is perfectly geekily lovable and Draya Maria, despite having the most future-fit politics in the play, is eminently smackable – in the best possible way.

Occasionally, audibility is an issue in this production in the round but it doesn’t get in the way of the narrative. The greater flaw with this particular brunch is the script. It’s funny. It’s fantastically well-observed: the dialogue is wincingly real. The shoe-shuffle into the history of the archetypes is witty, sharp and fabulously choreographed by movement director Jade Adamson.

This production has all the potential to be a perfect poached egg – but the water never quite boils. Partly, we know what’s going to happen. The story unfolds – beautifully perkily – but exactly as it should. And the final recognition of gloomy looming issues that locate this Brunch Club firmly on the stony road to Net Zero isn’t quite rousing enough to get the cheer it fully deserves. This play is full of hope, just as Harrison intended. But maybe doffing a cap to the impending apocalypse with a conflict punchier than the teasing of a vegan might have given this brunch a bit more bite.