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Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, review: Groan Ups

Groan Ups, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, to March 5.

Review by Charles Barker

This new comedy follows five people as they grow from toddlers, to teenagers, to adults meeting at a school reunion – and it’s a real hoot.

It’s from Mischief Theatre, the people behind the highly successful farce The Show That Goes Wrong, so they know a thing or two about making an audience laugh.

You’ve got to be patient: it’s a slow start as first we see the five as toddlers, and then as teenagers preparing for school exams. But the seeds are being sown for the uproarious second half. The five are growing up and changing – or are they? Will the adults find themselves trapped and defined by the choices they made as children?

We find out at the school reunion. Childhood sweethearts Archie (Daniel Abbott) and Katie (Lauren Samuels) are the most successful of the bunch and happily married – or are they?

Spencer (Dharmesh Patel) flunked school, works at a pet shop, and plays in the highly unsuccessful band he started as a boy – but is there more to Spencer than meets the eye?

Moon (Yolanda Ovide) would have her old friends believe she runs a restaurant, but nothing about her story quite adds up.

Simon (Matt Cavendish), the little school geek is still a geek, but affects a strutting over-confidence to compensate. He’s now a brilliant salesman (of urinal cakes) and he proudly unveils his trophy wife, a statuesque French model Chemise (Jamie Burkett).

Needless to say Chemise is not all she seems, but very little is. Truths are unveiled, chaos ensues, the action gets increasingly frantic, and a pet shop’s entire stock of hamsters is wiped out. Chuck in a human walrus (don’t ask, you need to be there) and you’ve got a genuinely hilarious climax. And there’s a surprise twist in there too.

The cast do a terrific job of hamming it all up but the show is stolen by the glorious Chemise who has the audience in stitches.

It’s all great knockabout fun.

Pictured are (back): Jamie Burkett (Chemise), Matt Cavendish (Simon); front, left to right, Daniel Abbott (Archie), Lauren Samuels (Katie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer) and Yolanda Ovide (Moon).

Photo: Pamela Raith.


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