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Review: Growth at Newcastle Northern Stage

A Hard Act To Follow

Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 23rd April 2016

Written by Luke Norris
Performed by NORTH 2016
: Craig Fairbairn, Millie Harris, Dale Jewitt, Katherine Pierce & William Wyn Davies
Directed by Maria Crocker

Poor Tobes.  He gets dumped by his long term girlfriend just after they had booked a holiday together. She suggests that he can always get the name changed on her ticket. To add insult to injury, she has already lined up the next bloke, a chap who works in a toll booth, and she parts with the suggestion that Tobes needs to be more spontaneous.

His solution is to find someone on the rebound who could fill that gap – how spontaneous is that? The only trouble is that she isn’t interested in a relationship and wants to pass on the news that perhaps Tobes needs to get checked out at the doctors.

Dale Hewitt as Tobes
Photo: Topher McGrillis
Luke Norris’s Growth follows the lives of a number of twenty-somethings as they cope with what adult life throws at you. The central character, Tobes, is performed wonderfully by Dale Jewitt. His discomfort and awkwardness is felt by the audience.  Not everyone is suave and debonair, as say James Bond, when it comes to dealing with people that they fancy. To that end Tobes is the everyman, the normal guy on the street. The script has a nice balance between the heavier and lighter moments in life and the funny lines had the audience laughing.

William Wyn Davies and Dale Jewitt
Photo: Topher McGrillis
The rest of Northern Stage’s young North 2016 company play the other roles in the production. Millie Harris and Katherine Pierce play the often direct women in his life. Craig Fairbairn and William Wyn Davies show that Tobe’s hang-ups are not necessarily unique. This capable bunch have recently entertained across the region with their tour of Animal Farm (REVIEW LINK). Growth is another wonderful vehicle for this group’s talents.

Millie Harris and Dale Jewitt
Photo: Topher McGrillis
Director Maria Crocker, herself a product of the Northern Stage North programme, has created a tight production. Each change of scene sees the ensemble enter the stage, swap props and then leave if they’re not in the next scene. This helps keep up the pace and energy that could easily be lacking in the rapidly moving scenes.  The audience are on 2 sides of the stage opposite each other and the action is accessible to everyone in the intimate surroundings of Stage 3.

Katherine Pierce and Dale Jewitt
Photo: Topher McGrillis
The play goes into some detail about how reluctant men are at seeing their doctors when they notice something that needs to get checked out. This problem is then further compounded by a lack of willingness to discuss the problems. This lack of dialogue is potentially lethal.  Having a production such as this could raise awareness.

Dale Hewitt as Tobes
Photo: Topher McGrillis
The North 2016 company has shown that it is capable of bringing plays to life. The interpersonal relationships result in believable dialogue and engaging stories. Growth is well worth seeing, though the small nature of the venue means that tickets will be limited.  Our recommendation is to try and pick up a ticket whilst you can. It will be fascinating to see what this fabulous group of actors do next.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Read the North East Theatre Guide preview: PREVIEW LINK

Dale Jewitt and Craig Fairbairn
Photo: Topher McGrillis
Tickets cost £8.50
Recommended age:14+ 
Running Time: 1 hr 15 min  or by phone from 0191 230 5151

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