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27th March 2017

Review: Growing Pains

Tom Gill delivers a raw and emotional performance, in a play not to be missed

Growing Pains, a Battersea Arts Centre Commission, is a beautifully honest piece of theatre. Based around the story of a young working class boy from Salford, this one man theatre show follows the struggles that ‘Gilly’ (Tom Gill) faces whilst attempting to pursue his career as an actor.

After its sell out run at the Edinburgh Fridge, Growing Pains showed for two nights only at the Royal Exchange’s studio theatre. The intimate venue adds to the connection developed with the multiple characters Tom Gill perfectly performs on stage over the course of the hour-long show.

The range of emotions covered within such a short space of time shows Gill’s impressive ability to convincingly and breathlessly switch from character to character, portraying his story from many points of views using only himself and his acting talent.

The story takes the audience on a rollercoaster journey of emotions, one moment catching your breath amongst fits of laughter and the next stunned by the violence unfolding, most of which comes from Gilly’s father.

From the moment Gill steps on stage, his energy takes the audience on board, following his journey with fascination; I couldn’t help but feel instantly submerged and invested within the play. His ability to be several people on that stage meant that I was hooked, his performance was mesmerising.

The play itself is something entirely new and innovative, original songs written and performed by Tom Gilly are present throughout, each of which exemplifies the intelligence behind the writing of this play.

It is a play completely different from many seen on stage, rather than elaborate tales it is something truly raw and down to earth, simply the life a working class boy with a dream of becoming an actor. Not only does the play emphasise the difficulty faced when trying to achieve success within such a tough industry, it emphasises how much more difficult that journey is when an aspiring performer comes from a background that does not necessarily support or encourage this.

A play so wonderfully real —and what I can only describe as a breath of fresh air within the industry, addressing real problems in a realistic and utterly convincing way — is something I am sure many would love to see much more of. It meant that you don’t simply walk out and see it as a piece of theatre, instead it brings with it a much stronger message.

If I could watch this play again and again then I would not hesitate to, as I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it and I hope to see the director, Matthew Landers, and the starring actor Tom Gill in many more pieces of theatre in the future. They are definitely a pair to look out for, and certainly not to be missed, as I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

Growing Pains showed from March 10-11th at the Studio Theatre, Royal Exchange and now continues its tour of the UK. For information on tickets and future shows, visit

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