The Paines Plough theatre company have brought the Roundabout theatre to Poole Park. Priding themselves on curating only the finest in new talent and writing it was an opportunity we could ill afford to miss. Arriving at Poole Park at dusk the pop up theatre makes its home next to the water, lit up against the ensuing darkness this dazzling dome is a magnificent sight. However stunning it is superficially it is what’s on the inside that counts though and the performance of ‘Growth’ we attended proved to be the complete package.
The play written by Luke Norris has proven a hit with critics who praise its humour and gritty realness. Norris creates grounded characters whilst tackling tough themes and still manages to keep the audience laughing throughout. We join Tobes during a dramatic time as his long term girlfriend tired of the stagnant life they lead decides to leave him. This throws him out into the world where he is finally forced to confront the troubling lump on his left testicle after it’s pointed out to him during a hilariously awkward one night stand. ‘Growth’ has a double meaning and it’s is as much about Tobes journey from boy to man as it is about the foreign body in his unmentionables. A compelling argument for any men in the crowd to give themselves a cheeky check up more regularly, it’s also an eye opening look at life and what’s truly important to us.
In such an intimate setting it’s easy to get swept up by the performances but Andy Rush’s as Tobes was truly captivating, delivering a compelling performance as the play’s lead. Tobes is a likeable character who is also at times fragile, broken and stupid. It’s the fact that he is so very human that makes the storytelling, so easy to fall into.
Remy Beasley and Richard Corgan make up the supporting cast and provide Tobes with the world he wanders through. Both actors seamlessly slip from one mask to the next as they change from bullish brother to painfully polite salesman, sassy nurse to holiday romance. Bringing something entirely unique to each and every character they portray, they sprinkle subtle nuances, affectations and oddities using only the language of body and voice.
Check out the Paines Plough website and make sure you don’t miss the next pop up performance.
Words by Matt Miles