Groan Ups at The Orchard Theatre
Groan Ups is the latest offering from Mischief Comedy, the same group that brought you The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and more. Groan Ups is however a slight departure from their normal farce and instead looks at a group of classmates at 3 different ages, year 2, aged 13 and then at the 10 year reunion.
The premise of the show sounds very simple however it is actually incredibly clever. Firstly the fact that we meet this group as young children means they can get away with saying things that may be shocking and things that adults wouldn’t typically say because of how we self filter! This not only causes hilarity but also sets up many of the stories brilliantly for how the rest of the show unfolds.
As the cast ages we learn more about how their relationships have developed and a key thing at 13 years old is who you fancy. This is also a vital part of Groan Ups but was treated in a way that it doesn’t mock the teenagers but more makes us see glimpses of our own past in some of the characters. Act 2 focuses on the 10 year reunion and the characters stories are brought together brilliantly. There was plenty of comedy but also so much heart within this act.
There is so much nostalgia within the show, with the overused Nokia ringtone, slang that I now cringe at the thought of using and music that reminds me of my own school days. Mischief Comedy have really hit the sweet spot here for putting enough nostalgia in to give you waves of recognition but not too much that it overloads the plot.
During Groan Ups we meet Archie, played by Daniel Abbott, the overachiever who is moved up a year but remains popular with the other characters, Spencer played by Dharmesh Patel who is struggling at school and Simon, played by Matt Cavendish completes the boys who is picked on by the others and is besotted by Moon. Moon herself is played by Yolanda Ovide and is a self-centred rich child sent to state school so she can learn how to interact with ordinary children. The final member of the group is Katie, played by Lauren Samuels, an intelligent girl who has set her sights high. All of the actors play their parts brilliantly and I really believed their relationships and how they had developed over the years. Matt Cavendish in particular does a brilliant job at making me feel equally sorry for Simon whilst at the same time being incredibly irritated by him! Moon and Katie’s relationship also seemed incredibly familiar and Ovide and Samuels got the love/hate relationship just right.
I must also mention the set, designed by Fly Davies. The set is centered around the classroom but the scale changes depending on the age the characters at that point in the show. The huge chairs and desks around the children in year 2 made for enjoyable visual comedy and the reverse of that with the tiny chairs when they return for the reunion was a nice touch.
Groan Ups is a show that we can all relate to, a show that buried within plenty of laughs is a show with intelligence and heart.
Groan Ups is on at The Orchard Theatre until 6th November. To find out more and to book tickets you can visit their website here.