Groan Ups Review - Mayflower Southampton

Growing up is an age old theme within theatre. It's a way of portraying everything from relationships, to education and the idea that our upbringing can shape who we are as adults. Placing this idea into a comedy play is one that is a sure to be a hit, and Mischief Theatre's Groan Ups got top marks this week when it took to the Mayflower Theatre stage and asked the question we all want the answer to. Do we ever grow up? 

Following the lives of five stereotypical six year olds, you watch them grow from these 90's primary school children who inadvertently expose their parents antics at the school assembly, through to rebellious teenagers who are at the turning point of their lives, and later adults as they come together at their school reunion. You watch as the friendships they forge together shift and change over time, and mixed in with the comedy is a poignant look at the highs and lows of growing up. 

Each character embodies the classic archetypes you find in the classroom. Yolanda Ovide is Moon, a stereotypically posh girl who only seems to be at the school as her parents have decided she needs to experience a state education. Her on stage tantrums and self obsession make you roll your eyes and laugh at the same time. Dharmesh Patel is Spencer, the child that never stops moving, makes awful mistakes (the running gag with the hamster is hilarious!) and lives in a Peter Pan world of wanting to be young forever. His physical comedy is brilliant, bringing much needed laughs when things on stage got a little too serious. 

Lauren Samuels is Katie, the stereotypical brain-box that is hell bent on being the most successful person in the room, who is up against Daniel Abbott as Archie. Both vying for the top spot and willing to sabotage to get where they need to be. Finally you are introduced to Matt Cavendish who plays Spencer. The outsider of the group, who just wants to be noticed and stand out. His acting had us in fits of laughter and was definitely one of our favourites. The ensemble is completed by Killian Macardle and Holly Sumpton who played a variety of roles including Paul and Chemise who were both stand out performances for us as a family. 

Mischief are kings in the stage comedy world, and this show was no exception. Straying away slightly from their usual "goes wrong" style, you thrown into a world of physical and slapstick comedy in slightly more subtle ways. I don't want to give away too many of the gags as they truly are hilarious and need to be seen without spoilers, but the class pet names are definitely something I won't forget in a hurry. With staging that changes and adapts throughout the show, the visual gags are endless, from oversized furniture at primary school to shrink these actors down to pint sized versions of themselves, to making things super small when they become adults, these little touches really made the show something special and had you laughing from start until finish. 

Groan Ups is a step away from the classic format that Mischief do so well, but that's not to say they didn't get an A* with this script. You can tell that Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields are at the top of their game as this is yet another classic Mischief show that will go down in the history books as a classic. With gags that will have both grown ups and teens laughing and cringing at the same time, you won't fail to find someone or something to relate to in this story of growing up. As someone that was born in 1990, this show really was a blast from the past and had me reminiscing of my own childhood and teenage years. 

One thing I would say is that Groan Ups is more suited towards the older children rather than the youngsters. With references to sex, puberty and innuendos aplenty, this could lead to some awkward conversations if a youngster were to head with you. Having said that, Max absolutely adored it and couldn't stop laughing (he's 11 if you wanted to know). It's a must see for 90's babies, teenagers, and those a smidgen older. Groan Ups is a perfectly written show about the ups and downs of growing up with laughs that come in thick and fast. It will leave you in hysterics one minute, and feeling moved the next.If you are after a show that is perfect for a night out with family and friends, this is the one. 

Groan Ups is on at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until 22nd January 2022 and then continuing on a UK Tour. 

*Note: Tickets were gifted, but all opinions are my own. 

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