Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the first production in Mischief Theatre’s year-long season at the Vaudeville Theatre.
The Telegraph: ★★★★ “We all need a bit of mischief in our lives, but how much Mischief Theatre do we need in the West End? It’s little more than 10 years since this band of (LAMDA) drama school graduates, bound by friendship and a passion for comic improvisation, formed on the fringe. Since then, they’ve become populist comedy’s answer to Andrew Lloyd Webber, taking over venue after venue.”
The Guardian: ★★★ “Charlie Russell as the earnestly ambitious Kate and Nancy Zamit as a snootily privileged rival are no less adept at showing that character is formed in childhood. It’s a tenable thesis. The problem is that drama depends on change whereas this play argues that we mature without ever growing up.”
Time Out: ★★ “That it’s basically well-meaning is never in doubt; neither is the fact that Mischief are terrific with a silly quip (the recurring gag about the names of the school pets is very amusing), or that they’re on stronger ground whenever it becomes more farce-like. They are a fundamentally likeable bunch. But they blunder way outside their comfort zone with the child acting in the first half and again with the bittersweet dramedy stuff in the second, and it just doesn’t work.”
Evening Standard: ★★ “The script is a communal endeavour by Mischief’s three founding actor-writers with input from the rest of the ensemble, which may explain its messiness, and the fact that director Kirsty Patrick Ward seems unable to impose order on it.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★ “It is in the second half that Mischief are clearly embarking on new territory for them, trying to capture some home truths about the impact of our childhoods on our adult selves and the enduring value of friendships forged as children. But the constant temptation to go for big laughs amidst the underlying seriousness sometimes undermines it, though once again it is the irrepressible physicality of the actors that’s the primary source of comic joy.”
The Stage: ★★★ “There are big laughs and plenty of them, but they sit uneasily with the straighter strain of the story. It’s not quite a case of Mischief Theatre Goes Wrong, but it’s not one of the company’s best either.”
iNews: ★★★ “All credit, then, at this decisive career point to find them pondering to what extent their trademark style can accommodate heartache and pathos, too. The short answer is very well indeed, and the result would be even better if the director Kirsty Patrick Ward’s staging were more rigorous and the narrative more firmly grounded in logic.”
The Times: ★★ “Is there a more outlandishly successful young company in Britain than Mischief Theatre?”
British Theatre.com: ★★ “The main problem is that their chosen characters lack specificity or any impression of originality. Their every utterance and action, therefore, rarely if ever attain any sense of freshness or originality. One laughs a bit, one is amused a little but at the same time that one realises one has heard and seen it all before, somewhere, only probably done a little bit better.”
British Theatre Guide: “This opening play in the Mischief’s Vaudeville Season can be thought-provoking although the more serious elements are not always fully realised and sometimes struggle to compete successfully against a wonderful array of gags. On the plus side, the comedy should guarantee that this company’s ever-increasing band of fans will keep the box office busy.”
Groan Ups plays at the Vaudeville Theatre.