DramaReviewSpoken Word

Tom Gill: Growing Pains – New Wolsey Studio, Ipswich

Writers: Tom Gill and Matthew Landers
Director: Matthew Landers
Reviewer: Paul Couch

Spoken Word artist Tom Gill may not yet be a household name but a rise in fortune is as inevitable as leaden skies over his home city of Manchester. His semi-autobiographical work, Growing Pains, reflects the frustrations of escaping a predictable no job/McJob in Salford while dodging physical and emotional abuse from a violent father.

It’s slickly delivered, extraordinarily clever, and an object lesson in casptivating and retaining an audience for the entire duration of the piece. Many established performance poets could learn a thing or two.

However, this isn’t only an impressive turn in front of a microphone; Gill isn’t simply another performance poet, but also a songwriter and musician, skills that become evident as his story changes gear and contrast on the fly. Even when something goes wrong, as it inevitably will during such quickfire, multi-personality delivery, his self-deprecating ad-libs keep his audience on side throughout.

This is John Hegley on acid, with more than a little of The Streets’ Mike Skinner thrown in for good measure but this is no derivative homage to other artists – Gill is as fresh and as original as they come. If Kate Tempest had a penis and a Salford accent, she’d be Tom Gill.

Despite being the only one on stage, Gill leaps from insanely vicious dad to stoner mate to stroppy barmaid in a heartbeat, rhyming his way through his own inbetweener years, taking the audience flawlessly through every twist and turn of a chaotic formative life to a surprising conclusion.

At a post-show discussion, Gill and his director, Matthew Landers discuss expanding the work to involve other actors and something more elaborate than its existing minimalist set, but this would be a mistake. Growing Pains needs the rawness and cohesion of its current format in order to platform this young artist’s phenomenal, multiple abilities properly.

Without question, Tom Gill is one of the most edgy and vital voices on the Spoken Word scene today. A star most definitely in the ascendance.

Reviewed on 16 March 2017 | Image: Contributed

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