IT WAS a treat to see a live performance after a very long time and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Groan Ups to further lift the spirits.
The play, brought to the Lyceum Theatre by Mischief Theatre — creators of comedies such as The Play That Goes Wrong —follows a group of five, starting when they are in Year 2 at Bloomfield School.
We then see them as teenagers finishing Year 9 and, in the second act, as 30-somethings attending a school reunion.
The set, in the form of a classroom, changes cleverly as the five get older.
While there is certainly comedy aplenty, the play also explores the question of whether our characteristics and, indeed, destinies are already in place when we are very young.
The “children” are played by Daniel Abbott as Archie, Matt Cavendish in the part of Simon, Yolanda Ovide as the excitable, slightly over the top Moon, Dharmesh Patel in the role of Spencer and Lauren Samuels as Katie.
Other parts are played by Killian Macardle, doubling up as Paul, a contemporary of the 'gang of five,' and teacher Mr White, while Jamie Birkett plays Chemise — it would be too much of a spoiler alert to describe who she is — and Miss Murray.
Hamsters, with names like Vincent Van Fluff, also feature.
As in The Play That Goes Wrong, there is plenty of humour, some of slapstick, but Groan Ups is by no means all given over to laughs.
There are several moments of pathos and the cast is adept at segueing from humour to serious situations very quickly and then back again equally fast.
It is when we see the characters as adults that the serious side of the play comes to the fore.
Characteristics from childhood have been reinforced and feelings and insecurities which the five had as teenagers are still bubbling not far from the surface.
While some of the humour is predictable — there are several running jokes — it is no less funny for that.
There were loud guffaws from the audience at quite a few points.
The cast is excellent, with Jamie Birkett deserving special mention in the role of Chemise in Act Two, and the laughs come thick and fast.
At the end of the evening I was left pondering whether Groan Ups was a comedy or a straight play my companion hit the nail on the head, describing it as a bittersweet comedy.
So if you are after a play with laughs but one which also tugs your heartstrings on occasion, this is the one for you.
Groan-Ups is at the Lyceum until Saturday.