Growing Pains

Rebekah Whiteley, Jill Hucklesby and Dave Jackson

The Theatre Workshop

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

From 20 August 2013 to 24 August 2013

Rating: *****

Review by Robin Strapp

Every now and again you find a group that completely embraces the ‘spirit of the Fringe’ for its boldness, compassion and sheer commitment to performing. The youngsters from The Theatre Workshop in Brighton perform their highly acclaimed devised piece Growing Pains with a confidence and tenacity that belies their age.

They have brought two short and contrasting pieces in their Fringe debut that demonstrate the obvious talents of these 12 youngsters. The first concerns a group of kids meeting to prepare a play for the Edinburgh Fringe that is cleverly and wittily written in rhyme and is very funny.

There are fairly stereotyped characters but they are beautifully realised with exemplary ensemble playing and includes a rap number and is full of high-energy performances.

The second piece is much more serious and questions whether, “school days are really the best years of your life”. Teenage issues tackling such subjects as friendships, bullying, body image, and homosexuality are powerfully explored through monologues, tight choreography and impressive storytelling.

Writer Rebekah Witeley has allowed their teenage voices to be strongly heard. We learn of their hopes, ambitions, fears, troubles and their inner thoughts.

It starts fairly simply with kids playing games at school but then becomes much darker as a gay boy is mercilessly bullied by his classmates with disastrous results. The consequences reach far into the kids’ consciousnesses.

The emotive powerful ending pulls at the heartstrings and I must admit I cried.

This is a young troupe that has tremendous potential and I do hope that they will return again next year. Youth theatre at its best.