Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields
Director: Kirsty Patrick Ward
You must have been hiding under a rock not to have heard or even seen any of the work produced by Mischief Theatre – their incredible rise from Above-The-Pub fringe to Broadway, West-End and international tours is nothing short of phenomenal and it looks like their Midas touch has no reason to depart anytime soon.
Unlike the vast body of work Mischief Theatre have created in the past, Groan Ups takes a detour from their “Goes Wrong” franchise and have planted their latest creation in a modern hybrid of Tim Firth’s Flint Street Nativity and Neil Bartlett’s 3 Act Play Love, Love, Love. This episodic comedy-drama follows five ‘friends’ as they try to grow through three major stages of life: primary school, secondary school, and arguably the hardest of them all adulthood. Just what impact do those formative years have on us when we grow up and do we really change when we become an adult?
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields have created a piece of theatre that not only has their trademark silliness firmly imprinted but Groan Ups allows them to follow more mature themes too. This amalgamation is tight and with Kirsty Patrick Ward’s confident and pacey direction Groan Ups – unlike a sugar high two-year-old, never outstays its welcome.
Played out on Fly Davis’ brilliant set design which is just as changeable and adaptive as its characters this classroom-based design, is bright and colourful and provides the perfect playground for the cast to throw themselves around on.
Daniel Abbott (Archie), Matt Cavendish (Simon), Yolanda Ovide (Moon), Lauren Samuels (Katie), and Dharmesh Patel (Spencer) all provide plenty of variety to make this work. Abbott gives plenty of layers to his portrayal of Archie, Ovide is a hoot as the spoilt Moon, Samuels is strong especially in the more formative chapters of the piece, Cavendish is the pieces fall guy, but his Act 3 change is crafted beautifully. Dharmesh Patel rounds out the children as the rambunctious but incredibly lovable Spencer – just don’t ask him to pet sit for you in the near future! The cast is also supported by two scene-stealing cameo roles by Killian Macardle as Paul and Jamie Birkett as Chemise – you have to be dead inside to not find these roles absolutely hilarious.
Groan Ups may not provide the laugh-a-minute farce you come to expect from Mischief, but this new direction is just as much a hit as its predecessors.
Runs until 4 Sept and continues on a UK Tour
If you’re expecting the great laughs of The Play that Went Wrong and Bank Robbery, you’ll be disappointed. Rather feeble and a little confused as to what its aims are. Some comedy moments, but wouldn’t recommend. Sorry