Theatre

Groan Ups At MayFlower Theatre, Southampton Review

TICKETS TO SEE THE SHOW WERE GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW.

Reviewed by Jane Warwick

There were belly laughs aplenty at The Mayflower theatre last night as we followed the friendships and interactions between a class of five friends as they develop from an unruly class of six-year olds, on their journey through pubescent fourteen year olds to the complexities of adult hood. But this latest offering from Mischief Theatre is more than just a simple farce- it poses the question as to whether we ever really change and how our formative years go on to influence the adults we become.

The first act starts with a primary school bell as the five main characters perform a ‘and that’s what I did this weekend’ routine which successfully introduces their personalities and traits. The curtain then goes up to reveal a classroom set complete with gigantic furniture which brilliantly transforms us into the world of a six year old and enables us to learn more about the main protagonists. There is poor, picked-upon Simon (Matt Cavendish), Katie the clever, nervous swot (Lauren Samuels), Moon the spoilt brat (Yolanda Ovide), Spencer the class clown (Dharmesh Patel) and Archie the theatrical one (Daniel Abbott). Each of these stereotypical characters reminds us of pupils we may have known, or been, at school and highlights the nostalgia we often feel for our school years.

The second act takes place in the same classroom, although the furniture and fittings are now normal size, and the other props remind us we are now in the early noughties. The cast are now young teenagers complete with flowing hormones and teenage crushes and this is the opportunity for plenty of hilarious banter on s** (editor’s note – word removed) and relationships and for the cast to develop their characters further.

The final act returns us to the same classroom for a school reunion when the characters are adults and although the farce continues there is also plenty of pathos and it is this ability to mix comedy and tragedy that makes Groan Ups stand apart from the other plays produced by Mischief Theatre. This act also introduces two more hilarious characters Chemise (Jamie Birkett) and Paul (Killian Macardle).

Throughout the production there is plenty of slapstick, laugh out loud banter and on-going gags (the hamster routine, with celebrity named pets, is wonderful!) but there is also plenty to think about as the characters develop and we feel for their sensitivities and foibles. The cast are uniformly excellent in the portrayal of their characters and the whole production is slick, polished and thought provoking.

Groan Ups was written by the original cast members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and is yet another production from Mischief Theatre which has had such run away success over the last decade with productions such as The Play That Goes Wrong, Magic That Goes Wrong, and the TV series The Goes Wrong Show. Groan Ups is an excellent, thoughtful, addition to this stable and provides for an evening of hilarity, nostalgia and downright good fun.

The Mayflower is an excellent venue and a deservedly popular theatre. There is good parking and a good selection of restaurants within easy reach making it the ideal place for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £19.50 – £37.50
GROAN UPS is at the MayFlower Theatre, Southampton From Tuesday 18th January to Saturday 22nd January 2022.
For more information or to book tickets visit https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/ or call the box office on 02380 711811

Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road .Southampton. Hampshire. SO15 1GE

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