five cast groan ups

Daniel Abbot as Archie, left with Yolanda Ovide as Moon with Dharmesh Patel as Spencer and Lauren Samuels as Katie all watching Matt Cavendish's Simon giving dancing a bad name. Pictures: Pamela Raith

Groan Ups

Coventry Belgrade


When we were six, my friend Joanne and I were going to be Can-Can dancers. She joined the army and I edited magazines. Funny how these things happen, eh?

Mischief Theatre, who brought us The Goes Wrong series, Ghosts, and more are behind Groan Ups, a play about growing up. All of the action takes place in the same classroom, with chairs and doors that change size to suit.

At six, yellow group of Class 2 at Bloomfield School consists of Archie (Daniel Abbott) who is precocious, Yolande Ovide (Moon) drama queen, Katie (Lauren Samuels) organised and mature, Spencer (Dharmesh Patel) hyperactive and shouldn’t eat sweets, and very late-bloomer Simon is easy to tease. At six, their characters look set and they are sweetly recognisable as we meet them again at 13, at hormone overload, and then at the school reunion in their thirties where the surprises mount up.

I loved how their characters are introduced. Teacher Miss Murray (Jamie Birkett), generally a disembodied voice, asks them to talk about their weekend. What they actually do is explain their family life and it’s revealing . . . and prophetic. Moon, for example, says that her parents live at the office and she stays at home with the au pair. Archie reveals a pushy father intent on success.

There is great depth to the play that is rewarding and the action is seeded in childhood. Moon’s childish tantrums are still impressive, Archie’s love of women’s clothes (and Spencer) sets the scene for life ahead, Katie’s addiction to order leads her to the civil service, Spencer’s lack of ambition is down to Archie’s endeavours to steal Katie from him at 13, Simon is permanently livid.

At the fun-filled finale, Spencer runs a pet shop and is still a budding musician with the Angry Lobsters, Katie achieves most of her aim of daughters and a crippling mortgage, Archie is unfulfilled though successful in career terms, Simon has a whole bag of chips on his shoulder and his unlikely Geordie ‘girlfriend’ Chemise (Jamie Birkett) gives a truly great performance of dumping him when he discovers that Moon, over whom he is still mooning, might be free.

Paul (Killian Macardie) is at the wrong school and can’t understand why no one remembers him or his walrus impressions!

Directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward the offspring will be groaning up to 05-03-22.

Jane Howard


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