Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until 25 September 2021
Reviewed by Heather Chalkley
Mischief are making magic all over again. In Groan Ups the writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, take the familiar, extract the humour and use it to ask an age old, unanswered question – do we choose what we become?
When the characters first enter the stage as children, running down the aisles, you are smiling already. The body language and ‘what I did this weekend’ assembly, is your character development in one swift shot! There are serious subjects touched on with hilarious results that make you think and laugh out loud all at once. The concluding scenes bring the piece to a tumultuous climax. Simon (Matt Cavendish) states clearly he is what they made him, after the years of constant bullying and degradation. We all know Archie (Daniel Abbott) is gay from the first scenes as 6 year olds. So are we already what we are or does our life mould us? Each and every main character gives light and shade, delivering intensity and humour in equal measures to this question. The humour is taken to another level by Jamie Birkett as Chemise, a complete caricature that puts the farcical into this farce.
Credit must be given to the creatives. The simple and effective staging tells you what age the characters are by the size of the classroom chairs and tables! The costumes give great visual clues, like a window into life at home.
If you want to belly laugh whilst pondering a philosophical question, Groan Ups does it by the bucket full.