‘Broken Biscuits’ at 1812: Too-often-told tale of misfits starting a band
Tom Wells' "Broken Biscuits" concerns a bunch of awkward, marginalized teens who decide to form a band and thereby discover friendship and belonging. It turns out to be somewhat hackneyed and predictable, with not all that much at stake.
Broken Biscuits, 1812 Productions' season opener, follows that tried-if-not-true formula of all shows aimed specifically at a youth audience: Be yourself and you'll be happy. By youth I mean children; actual real live teenagers wouldn't sit still for this show for a minute. Why the adult audience stayed remains a mystery.
This very gentle play by Tom Wells is about teenage dreams and teenage angst; being a "loser" is the worst imaginable fate. Megan (Amanda Jill Robinson), Ben (Michael Macri), and Holly (Leigha Kato) are adorable 16-year-old misfits who decide to create a band in Megan's garage. That they can neither sing nor play their instruments is no hindrance to their liberation from excruciating self-consciousness into dancing freedom. That's the trite story line. It's so familiar that we know we're in for a happy ending, especially since the worst that happens to them is some unseen kid throws eggs at the garage windows.
Their misfit-ness is also trite: Ben wants to wear a sequined dress, while Megan is plump and bossy and partial to her unicorn onesie and stuffed animals, while Holly is so, so shy she cannot speak to the boy she has a crush on (Kato, the standout in the cast, finds all the exact gestures to reveal her character — arms folded, braids tight).
The plot's setup is a Battle of the Bands competition, and they have nine weeks to transform themselves from losers into cool kids. That they won't is also obvious from the start. Jennifer Childs' direction allows all the repetitious singing and awkward dancing to go on way too long, and since the story line has no real conflict, the whole show lacks tension and focus.
The tedium is not relieved by the Yorkshire accents, which are hard to understand and require a glossary of terms in the program. There is really no reason the characters couldn't be American teenagers in an American garage (excellent set by Lance Kniskern) using their own voices. Merely change the title to Broken Cookies — the crumbs would be the same.