Mischief Theatre first bounced onto our stages with The Play That Goes Wrong back in 2008 which had us laughing so hard we nearly lost control of our bodily functions.
“Mischief is now bringing us something slightly different – not something that goes wrong, but an actual coming-of-age story, albeit a funny one”
Moving swiftly into the West End and Broadway, their initial success was then followed by Peter Pan That Goes Wrong, Nativity, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Magic Goes Wrong and Mischief Movie Night.
And with awards coming out of their ears, Mischief is now bringing us something slightly different – Groan Ups – not something that goes wrong, but an actual coming-of-age story, albeit a funny one, about a group of friends who grow up together and then re-meet at a school reunion.
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, Groan Ups is directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward, as we are introduced as an unruly classroom of six year-olds, they journey through anarchic teenage life to adulthood, while asking real questions such as do we choose who we become? Is the story of our lives already written? Do we ever really grow up?
So why have Mischief, the comedy caper specialists, deviated from their tried and tested path of farcical success?
Yolanda Ovide who plays Moon, and starred in Mischief’s The Comedy About A Bank Robbery says: “They just wanted to try something different, which is why Groan Ups is aimed at a slightly older audience (12+) and mixes hilarity with nostalgia.
“It’s about the experience of growing up and how we change and adapt really.”
Mischief was created by flatmates and fellow actors Henry Lewis, Mike Bodie, Josh Elliot and Dave Hearn who decided to stop waiting for the phone to ring and write and star in their own slap-stick productions instead.
And as Yolanda went to LAMDA where the Mischief boys were also graduates, she says “They are legends there. People talk about their success all the time. So I was really excited about joining the cast because Groan Ups is something really new, fresh and of course hilarious.
“I remember going to see The Play That Went Wrong for the first time and thought how great it was, so to be starring in their new play is really exciting.
Her character Moon is a boisterous, rather well-to-do child who carries that confidence on into adulthood: “She thinks she knows everything and hasn’t experienced the school of hard knocks, so is really fun to play.
“And having all been teenagers and grown up ourselves you also really feel for the characters because they are written with a real truth and honesty.”
So what’s it like being back in front of a live audience after so long? “I feel so grateful – that sense of joy you get in a theatre – so I’m really proud and happy to be back. I don’t think people realised how much they loved theatre until it was gone, which makes me appreciate it even more.”
Groan Ups runs at Oxford Playhouse from Monday 13 – Saturday 18 September. Tickets at: https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/groan-ups