This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour was invited to see Groan Ups by Wolverhampton Grand.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Review: Groan Ups at Wolverhampton Grand
Directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward, Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Archie (Daniel Abbott) has moved up the year below and the other kids in his new class have been told to be nice to him, Moon (Yolanda Ovide), Spencer (Dharmesh Patel) and Kate (Lauren Samuels) are too busy blaming Simon (Matt Cavendish) for their naughty behaviour to listen to their teachers Mr White (Killian Macardle) and Miss Murray (Jamie Birkett).
We meet these five people as primary school children, then we meet them again as 14 year olds in 2001 and finally as adults at a reunion at their old school.
Touted as a comedy from Mischief, the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Groan Ups is quite the change in direction. The slapstick and farce are still present but there is quite a lot of drama to contend with.
These are characters who have spent lots of time together throughout their lives but don’t really know each other at all. Their flaws are exposed to each other and at times it is a little uncomfortable to watch. Perhaps this is the point of this particular story.
The sets are excellent with oversized props for the primary school which reinforce how challenging the world looks to school age children. The music tracks help us know what era we are in with ease with Daniel Bedingfield’s Gotta Get Thru This snapping us into 2001.
My favourite character is Moon, played by Yolanda Ovide, as a child Moon, has moved from a posh paid school and by the time we see her as a teen she is one of the gang, but then feels like an outsider again as an adult experimenting with fads and whatever paid retreats or lifestyles are in vogue at that moment. Yolanda Ovide brings Moon’s vulnerable personality to the surface and then skilfully hides it from the others.
As a story which was first performed six months before the start of the pandemic, this still has a very raw quality to it, each act ends on downbeat notes. A drama with comedy or a comedy with drama? Groan ups shows that Mischief has more stories to tell and sometimes they might have quite serious quality.
A quirky exploration of schools and school reunions Groan Ups is at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 13th November. The UK Tour currently continues until 5th March 2022. Find out more here: groan-ups.com/venues-tickets