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The Biscuit Club

Theatre Review by Howard Miller

Stephane Duret, John Charles McLaughlin, and Paul Nugent
Photo by Howard Schnapp.

Do you find it impossible to walk by a pet store without stopping to ooh and aah at the puppies in the window? Do you look forward to Broadway Barks more to hang out with the dogs that are up for adoption than to spend time in the company of Bernadette Peters and the other celebrity participants? If so, you will likely get a big kick out of The Biscuit Club, a shaggy charmer of a play at The Cell.

Running a brisk 60-minutes, the play, written by Marianne Driscoll, takes its inspiration from the popular 1985 film The Breakfast Club. Like its predecessor, The Biscuit Club brings together a disparate group of characters who start out snarling and yipping at one another, but who gradually form a bond of friendship as they spend the night together in Bradley's Bed & Biscuit, a boarding kennel whose owner is nowhere to be seen.

The cast of six experienced Equity actors, under Kira Simring's direction, does an impressive job embodying the canines—from Champ (Paul Nugent), the snooty purebred Airedale Terrier, to Sparky (John Charles McLaughlin), the bouncy Labrador pup, to Whiskey (Bob Jaffe), the belligerent pit bull. Rounding out the pack are Jiggs, the nervous beagle (Stephane Duret), Dolly, the flirty and sassy Shih Tzu (Judy Rosenblatt), and Chester (Jack O'Connell), the aging bulldog who minds the kennel in his owner's absence.

At the start, four of the dogs are in varying stages of settling into their separate cages (Chester is asleep on the floor, and Whiskey is in the basement, where he is kept apart from the other dogs lest he attack them). Jiggs, who is used to a regimented and consistent routine, is growing increasingly anxious about being locked up and barks loudly to wake Chester. Eventually, it is Dolly who is able to charm the old bulldog into opening the cages, and the rest of the play is about their individual stories and their interactions with one another. Even Whiskey, when he makes an appearance, turns out to be more bark than bite, and it all ends in a lovely group hug.

So, yes, The Biscuit Club tells a sweet, sometimes sappy bedtime story, but it tells it well, with a group of actors who fully sink their teeth into portraying their canine selves. Still, if the thought of all this dogginess doesn't thrill you, cheer up. It has been widely rumored that Broadway will soon see a return visit by Cats.

The Biscuit Club
Through April 25
The Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rd Street
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: