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Groan Ups - Belgrade Theatre Review

Schools out as Mischief Theatre bring their latest production, Groan Ups, to Coventry's Belgrade Theatre on the final stop of an extensive UK and Ireland tour.

From the comedy minds with successes such as The Play That Goes Wrong, Magic Goes Wrong, and hit TV adaptation The Goes Wrong Show, Groan Ups is the latest in a strong portfolio for the company. 

Matt Cavendish (Simon), Lauren Samuels (Katie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer), Daniel Abbott (Archie) & Yolanda Ovide (Moon). Photo by Pamela Raith.

The production follows the trials and tribulations of 5 youngsters at 3 different stages of their school development, from primary school, high school, and finally a school reunion. It's wickedly funny but also delivers an underlying message about connecting with our younger selves and the things from our past. The genius of Groan Ups is in those layers.

Striking visual design by Fly Davis sets these different ages with all the action taking place in the same classroom. In the primary school section, the set and props are larger than life which creates the illusion that the children are small, this changes at different ages with the children growing and the set and props become normal-sized.

The cast of seven is outstanding. The comic timing is immaculate, managing to combine side-splittingly funny moments and also moments of truth and reality. Arguably the play's strongest moments are in those more truthful moments. 

Jamie Birkett (Chemise), Matt Cavendish (Simon), Daniel Abbott (Archie), Lauren Samuels (Katie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer) & Yolanda Ovide (Moon). Photo by Pamela Raith.

Daniel Abbott captures Archie's journey from an energetic youngster to a grown-up married man superbly. Dharmesh Patel's constant boyish sparkle as Spencer never dulls and it's all the stronger for it, he is tremendous at delivering humour, especially the more farcical moments. It's scenes between Abbott and Patel where the heart is strongest too.

Yolanda Ovide captures the growth of Moon superbly. From her youthful playful energy to the girl who all the boys like whilst also being a little chaotic. Lauren Samuels has a great heart as Katie. She is the somewhat calming presence and a mold that holds much of the action together. Matt Cavendish is the butt of much of the group's jokes and he is expertly believable, especially in the second act as he unravels and stands up for himself a little more.

Jamie Birkett shines in the second act as Chemise. She is wickedly funny in delivery and portraying the part as is Killian Macardle who as Paul gets some standout moments of humour which he relishes in.

Groan Ups may be silly, it may be hilarious but it's the layers that make this show stand out. The production builds and peels back those layers with real skill. It's a nostalgia trip for any kid of the 90s like me. It makes you think about your own younger days and your own journey and the thoughts and decisions you have made. Genius comic fun.

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Groan Ups continues at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry until Saturday 5th March when the tour ends. Final tickets available from

Daniel Abbott (Archie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer) & Matt Cavendish (Simon). Photo by Pamela Raith.

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