Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
7:00 AM 8th September 2021

Groan Ups – A Hilarious Evening’s Entertainment

Following their remarkable rise to international success with best selling comedies including The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Goes Wrong Show on BBC One, the multi award-winning Mischief Theatre return to the stage with their latest offering which is all about our perceptions on life and how they shape us as we move from childhood into adulthood.

The play set is a school classroom where we follow the fortunes of five characters as they move from junior school, on through their teenage years and finally into maturity.

A lively, colourful and energetic opening has the characters depicting cheeky and rebellious six-year-olds, and we are treated to their sharp but innocent observations on the adult world around them.

Malapropisms abound with the Prime Minister becoming the Prime Sinister, to have his fingers in all of the pies, a deterrent becomes a detergent whilst Katie describes the prosecution as prostitution.

Next they are teenagers becoming interested in sex and starting to form emotional ties. The relationships between the five characters is explored with great humour and is sharply observant of human frailties.

Archie and Katie in particular are both besotted by the clumsy, hamster-destroying, Spencer, whilst poor Simon is always trying to be accepted into the ‘in’ crowd. Moon, with her wealthy parents is both patronizing and snobbish.

Vincent, the one eared hamster, should get a mention at this point playing multiple roles, both dead and alive, throughout the play.

The second half opens with the now adults attending the school reunion. We are brought up to date seeing the adults the children have grown into and we find that the apple never falls far from the tree as what we are is what we become. The heavily signposted twist from the first act is finally revealed, the hamster earns his oats and a Cheryl Cole sound-alike character named after a French shirt bursts into the mayhem…..

The second act does lag on occasions but is saved by the knockabout action that intersperses the soul searching that sometimes did seem to go on a tad too long.

Throughout the play a bright and colourful set cleverly changes size to suit the age of the characters: as six year olds the characters are dwarfed by the school furniture and the height of the classroom door handles, whilst conversely when they return to school as adults the furniture is small as anyone who’s attended a primary school parents evening will know.

Written by the actor-writer team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the play very funnily explores how the experiences of childhood are replicated into adult life.

All of the cast were brilliant but special mention must go to Chemise played by Jamie Birkett who literally brought the house down: who knew there were so many pronunciations of the word ‘entrepreneur’?

If you have been lucky enough to see any of the other Mischief theatre productions and liked them then this is definitely one to add to your ‘must see’ list. You’ll know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed.

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
Until 11th September (Thursday and Saturday Matinee)