Chloe Evans || October 29th
Roundabout Festival recently came to Hanley, ‘an exciting one-of-a-kind pop-up theatre that can travel to its audience rather than vice versa’, and brought with it a series of sensational live theatre performances, one of which, Growth, REBEL was lucky enough to see.
Incorporating real life scenarios with some seriously funny humour we see the saddening story of Tobes, our main character played by Andy Rush, and his journey through life after discovering he had a lump. Growth was performed by three main actors who each brilliantly executed a collection of roles; Tobes played by Andy Rush, Tobes’ girlfriend - Beth, a doctor, a holiday romance and his sister played by Remy Beasley who switched between the roles throughout the play and Tobes’ boss - Jared, his friend - Joff, his brother and his travel agent rep played by Richard Corgan. Each switch between both actors was seamless, changing persona constantly and creating the sets from nothing but their speech.
Growth was an extremely fresh look at the troublesome topic of testicular cancer; something that is often thought as a taboo subject that we often shy away from and try to ignore. The topic is brought to our attention with a detailed story line that takes us through a raft of emotion and then comforting us slightly with spells of pure laughter. Growth doesn’t spare us any humility or ease our feelings of hurt for Tobes. Seeing him dumped by Beth and being left broken and confused he eventually falls into the arms of a woman he is hoping to bed. Only she finds a suspicious lump that we learn Tobes has been ignoring for a long time without having checked. After refusing him we slowly see his mind state deteriorate before he takes the plunge and visits his GP and is quickly referred to a medical consultant to be told that his left testicle has to be removed. From consultation to operation we see just a glimpse of what it is like to be in such a position, and the emotions that come with it.
Though the performance is moving and eye-opening, Growth managed to throw in some extremely comical scenes, having your friend feel your family jewels to compare against his own isn’t the most comfortable situation, in more ways than just one! But it is a great opportunity to dust off the stigma around testicular lumps and cancer. There were also some darker twists to the show that brought us down from the comical highs and back to earth and made us realise that it really isn’t a laughing matter and that we should all be very aware of changes to our body. Towards the end of the play Tobes is starting to feel extremely sorry for his self, losing his girlfriend, his job, being turned down by a holiday crush and returning back home to meet a man who it seems has had a very similar journey to his self, we find out that Tobes’ lump was actually a cist and after complaining greatly to his new found friend whilst looking for some sympathy that he hasn’t received from his family or friends, he is shot down by the fact his situation isn’t as bad as the gentleman’s he is complaining to, and in actual fact he will be dying and leaving his son without a Father, but Tobes will live.
Growth moved a room full of people and with the help of the brilliant actors and actresses we were bound to witness the movement that theatre doesn’t have to be viewed in a brick and mortar location, but can actually pop up nearly everywhere, delivering the same high quality and brilliant entertainment that we’ve grown to love and expect from live theatre.