Thomas W. Hodgkinson

Groan Ups

By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Vaudeville, London

The big joke of this broad and ultimately very funny farce, the latest offering from the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong, is that no one changes. The plump princess at primary school is the same at the class reunion. Ditto the saucy swot, the troubled leader and the emotionally self-harming runt. These are our protagonists, played by the same actors at 5, 15 and 35. They’re at their least convincing as children, which left me wondering if the writers know any. Yet we gradually warm to them — even the runt, who swaggers into the reunion with a glam girlfriend. In reality, she’s an actress coached to break up with him in public, with the words: “I shall miss you and your house that has a pool.” There’s also a hilarious cameo from an alpha-male git named Paul, who insists on doing the walrus impression that, he claims, earned him the nickname Walrus Palrus. There’s no resisting gags of this calibre.