At the Junction Cafe

Expecting an innovative and funny play, I was left disappointed to come across a heavily clichéd script and very little laughter. Some scenes raised a smile (perhaps for the wrong reasons), but it nearly all went wrong At The Junction Cafe.

some scenes raised a smile (perhaps for the wrong reasons), but it nearly all went wrong

This is the first play from Brighton company, Buckle Collective and opens in a café with a waitress, Catherine (Nathalie Codsi), who hates her job. She’s getting ready to close up when in walks Mr Brockington (Jack Klaff), a wealthy man with a lot on his mind - not least his long lost daughter.

We learn that the Café is run down, serving frozen food and has a very limited bar whilst Mr Brockington wishes he’d gone to the Chinese restaurant next door. All of the restaurant props are covered in purple tissue paper, for reasons that were unclear, and at times were a distraction.

As the play goes on, we start to see similarities between the older Mr Brockington and the younger Catherine. They both have an interest in Artificial Intelligence, both outsiders at university, both loners and observers of life. These similarities come together, with a twist, which was revealed far too early in the play. Once it was revealed, there wasn’t really anywhere for the piece to go.

Half-way through the play Klaff (Mr Brockington) interrupted to tell us that he had been reading from a script (a fact which hadn’t gone unnoticed by the audience), and had lost his place. It was hard for the actors to recover and meant the second half ran much less smoothly. One of Klaff’s lines about being dragged through a desert felt a little close to home.

Klaff was clearly struggling with the script throughout the play – he often started monologues in an overly hammy way only to fade away by the last line. Lots of his speeches were rushed, and many of the lines didn’t hit as hard as they perhaps should have.

His CV is an impressive one, winning two Fringe Firsts and a Herald Archangel award, so perhaps his faltering could have been down to a wordy script from writer Tim Coakley. There was a lot of repetition (which may be why lines were forgotten) and a lot of convenient plot points, resulting in the play being overly clichéd and at times too simplistic. I struggled to believe that a man working in high tech computing wouldn’t be able to track down his daughter using the internet.

Fortunately Nathalie Codsi as Catherine put in a solid performance, holding it together when her co-star faltered, despite being clearly flustered. This left me wondering if maybe the piece would work better as a one-woman monologue, giving us more insight into Catherine’s life as an abandoned, and later orphaned, child.

With a better rehearsed cast, some script tightening and sophistication plus a little rethinking, Buckle Collective could end up with a solid play. Certainly the basic (if somewhat unbelievable) story and some of the methods used to tell it were interesting. However for a play that promised to be “hilarious”, “innovative” and “experimental”, it definitely missed the mark.

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The Blurb

At times moving, at times hilarious, At the Junction Cafe is a battle of the generations that explores relationships, memory and human communication in a highly innovative way.

Two people meet in a cafe. Who are they? Are they connected? Will a struggle of wills ensue?

This group of local professional artists got together in November 2016.