"You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." --John Hughes The Breakfast Club gave us more than a memorable hit from Simple Minds and a young Emilio Estevez. The film firmly cemented once and for all the quintessential archetypes of high school into popular culture. You were a Molly, a Judd, an Emilio, an Anthony Michael, or an Ally, whether you liked it or not.
Ten years have passed since The Breakfast Club debuted, but these conventions of teenagedom are still pervasive, making Sonya Sobieski's new comedy, Commedia dell Smartass, all the more relevant. Commedia dell Smartass, produced by New Georges at the Ohio Theater in SoHo, takes these archetypal characters and flips them upside down and inside out. Her "cheerleader" is a type-A Girl Scout obsessed with her future; her "jock" is a Fencer with Machiavellian instincts; her "sensitive outcast" is a pantaloon-wearing Clown of ambiguous gender; and her "nerd" is a shlubby guy named Henry who dreams of teleporting to the moon.
Sobieski's irreverent style in this quirky commedia dell'arte pokes fun at hackneyed teenage stereotypes. Yet she does not denounce the existence of such stereotypes. As a result, she just might be the John Hughes of the post-9/11 generation. I mean this as a compliment: like Hughes, she has a clear insight into teenagers' lives, but unlike that iconic movie director of the 1980's, she avoids the pitfalls of sentimentality by employing a distinct snarkiness. At times, this snarkiness borders on pretentiousness, which may be Sobieski's goal. Not only is she riffing on pop culture archetypes, but she is also taking a shot at the presumed savvy of teenagers today, and at world that forces them to grow up too soon.
Sue Rees's simple set