Mischief Theatre Has had what could be described as its own residency at the Lowry theatre in the past few weeks; with productions; ‘The Play that Goes Wrong’ and ‘Magic Goes wrong’ all delighting audiences returning to live theatre. Their third production to frequent the Salford Quays theatre this Summer is Groan Ups and it’s a departure from their usual escapades and calamity-laden gags – this is play, with no sets falling down, no props inadvertently missing, it’s something very different.
Groan Ups follows the lives of five children as they grow into adults, highlighting three different chapters of their lives on stage.
The production opens with the characters being 6-year-olds in the second year of primary school then developing into teenagers and lastly as 30-year-olds at a school reunion, with the writers asking do we ever really grow up and whether we actually chose who we become or if it’s already written.
The first half of the show works to set up a lot of the material that’s to come in the second half and at times this early part of this show can seem quite long and drawn out but then in contrast; the second half which sees the cast as adults is engaging, witty and at times quite moving as it deals with complex issues that develop from being a child from Act 1.
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields; The script is incredibly clever, from the naughty phrases that it packs which can seem so innocent to a child but deliver such roars of laughter from the audience discovering their real meaning; to the way it can provide some quite unexpected heart-warming and touching scenes which one doesn’t expect.
As with all Mischief productions, the cast can make or break the show’s success and this talented cast manage to ride out any flat parts of the show and ensure it’s entertaining throughout.
Jamie Birkett as Chemise is dazzling funny throughout, so too is Dharmesh Patel as Spencer who make you feel such compassion for his character while also delivering some of the biggest gags too.
Daniel Abbott as Archie has some fantastic dialogue in the second half with perfect delivery while Lauren Samuels as Kate and Matt Cavendish as Simon deliver throughout.
Killian Macardle as Paul provides us with a masterclass in physical comedy throughout and Yolanda Ovide is perfectly cast as the larger-than-life character, Moon.
The stage and set designs by Fly Davis are inspired with giant props and oversized furniture which help to not only set the scene but provide humorous opportunities for the cast particularly in Act One.
Directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward; Groan Ups is lighthearted and perfectly balanced with an abundance of humour and great moments of depth.
It’s very different to their other productions touring but it’s well worth seeing and proves that Mischief Theatre are much more than just a ‘Goes Wrong’ hit wonder!
Playing at the Lowry until 28th August and then on tour https://www.groan-ups.com/venues-tickets
Reviewer: Max Eden
Reviewed: 23rd August 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★