But John Hughes Said It Would Be OK

At the end of the first scene, an actor says: ‘The films of John Hughes spoke to a generation. He captured the angst of adolescence, the highs of teenage adventure and lows of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a way which said, “It’s OK.” And we believed him. Perhaps we shouldn’t have.’  In Hadley Freeman’s excellent book ‘Life Moves Pretty Fast’, she says about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ‘it’s a former teenage outsider’s fantasy about what their teenage life should have been like, and this is why it appeals so much to Hughes’ audience, which is largely made up of current and former teenage outsiders’.

Unnamed Theatre’s new production But John Hughes Said It Would Be OK consists of ten short scenes.  These are rooted in John Hughes’ films from the eighties and linked on the theme of the disappointment of adulthood.  It all pivots around two scenes.  ‘Reunion’ sees the surviving members of the Breakfast Club talk through what happened to their hopes and dreams, and what have become disappointments; ‘I forgot about that Saturday afternoon’, says Brian, a lovely irony set against our continued rewatching of the films.  ‘But John Hughes promised me a sequel’ looks at how the characters feel about the lives promised them by the filmmaker, and offers some hope.  In between, the scenes reference the films, but mainly ask whether adulthood is all it’s cracked up to be.   Does your heart really die when you grow up?

It’s a great premise, with an overall feel that although adulthood can never match the beauty and innocence of teenage lives portrayed in the films,  we can still find happiness and hope.  We can embrace the complexity of adulthood.  But the writing is variable and it doesn’t all hit the mark.  And at times it’s a bit bleak; I wanted a lot of music in the scene changes to draw me back into the idealised teenage world that I remember.  I wanted more, let’s call it, texture, a balance between reality and illusion.   Still, it’s very watchable and if you know the films, this play gives you a lot to think about.

And, according to my friend, the most iconic 80s film ending is the fist in the air at the end of Breakfast Club.  If only our lives turned out like that.

Oldham Library 25, 26 October.  Salford Arts 27, 28 October.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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