Childish entertainment – for all ages! (Review)

Belly laughs are very much in short supply these days. . .so a visit to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre this week should definitely be on your calendar.

Mischief and mayhem are abound in the form of Groan Ups, a farcical story that follows an unruly classroom of six-year-olds as they journey through teenage life and into adulthood.

Groan Ups, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, review
Matt Cavendish (Simon), Lauren Samuels (Katie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer), Daniel Abbott (Archie) & Yolanda Ovide (Moon). Photo credit Pamela Raith.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward, Groan Ups is delighting local audiences after premiering in the West End in 2019 and follows sell-out runs of the company’s The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery and Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

There is a wealth of hysterical material so easy to relate to for everyone who is a child, has children of their own or used to be a child!! Something for everyone then!

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Groan Ups, review
Yolanda Ovide (Moon) & Lauren Samuels (Katie). Photo credit Pamela Raith.

From playground spats to teenage crushes and dead hamsters (yes multiple!), there’s no let up to the anarchy and angst. But, like all true farces, the frenetic atmosphere builds throughout the show, but it’s not without its poignant scenes and, beneath it all, this is a comedy that asks real questions of us. – Do we choose who we become? Is the story of our lives already written? Do we ever really grow up? This is certainly a fun way to explore the answers.

The show’s co-writer Henry Lewis puts it best: “Groan Ups is about how life becomes more complex, how much (and sometimes how little!) things change over time, and about how events in our youth can change our lives forever. But at its heart, Groan Ups is a joyful comedy, finding its fun in the madness of childhood, the agonies of adolescence and all the ridiculous things we do when we all finally pretend to be adults.”

The small but perfectly formed cast of Groan UpsDaniel Abbott (Archie), Jamie Birkett (Chemise, Miss Murray), Matt Cavendish (Simon), Killian Macardle (Paul, Mr White), Yolanda Ovide (Moon), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer), and Lauren Samuels (Katie), pull off perfectly timed comedy throughout.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Groan Ups, review
Daniel Abbott (Archie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer) & Matt Cavendish (Simon). Photo credit Pamela Raith.

And the script’s attention to detail evokes childhood memories we have long buried. But as a mum of teenagers, it’s the middle segment that resonated most of all and I found myself laughing and maniacally nodding throughout! Teens themselves couldn’t fail to also find it funny however. They just may not admit it!

Groan Ups plays at The Belgrade Theatre until Saturday (March 5th). Tickets are available by phoning the Box Office on 024 7655 3055 (phone lines open 10:30am – 2pm, Mon – Sat), or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where tickets are even cheaper.

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