Following on from the successes of Jumpers for Goalposts, The Kitchen Sink and Folk, writer Tom Wells’ new play comes to Newcastle’s Live Theatre in association with Paines Plough. Inspired by a listen to Pulp’s 1995 hit single Mis-Shapes (the lyrics of which contain the play’s title), Broken Biscuits follows three friends filling time whilst awaiting their GCSE results. Self-considered losers, or in other words, three young people who don’t fit in with whatever their classmates deem to be ‘cool’, the characters of Megan, Holly and Ben are inspired by Megan to form a band and write a song for a local competition. The fact that they have little to no experience between them is deemed by the infectious Megan to be of little relevance.
The action takes place over several weeks in a shed, situated in Megan’s garden, where her drum kit is set up. Following initial reluctance, Holly and Ben get involved, become competent on their instruments and begin to write songs. Although close friends and accepting of each other’s foibles, it’s perhaps only through their respective lyrics that each reveals their true self. With time against them, the trio have their own lives to lead, and the play beautifully reflects their growing independence from each other, as well as their genuine fondness and friendship.
Alongside a brilliant script full of hilarity and musical moments, it’s this theme in particular that strikes a chord – the notion of being a teenager, with all its natural changes and trials, and life seemingly out of control. It’s refreshing that the play does not delve into overly dark territory and instead perfectly portrays the difficulties of transition from young person to adult – a testing thing in itself, even harder when you’re waiting for exam results and don’t fit with the in-crowd.
Hats off must go to all three actors – Faye Christall as Megan, Grace Hogg-Robinson as Holly and Andrew Reed as Ben – all of whom perform with aplomb. The play is excellently directed by James Grieve, has a quality set designed by Lily Arnold and a brilliant bunch of songs from Matthew Robins. Documenting the trio’s song writing attempts from the off, the lyrics are always in keeping with the dialogue and the melodies still hummable the morning after. Tom Wells has written a wonderful play here, and it may well be the most uplifting thing you’ll see all year.