Grow Up Grandad

Date 5th March 2022
Society Middlesbrough Little Theatre Limited
Venue Middlesbrough Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Mike Crooks
Written By Gordon Steel


Author: Jean Scarlett-Carr

This was a play written by a local play-write Gordon Steel that is fabulously written depicting the whole ethos of the area so accurately that was immediately recognisable, and that has so much of an emotional rollercoast throughout. The comedy, the suspense, the sadness, and pain were all audibly heard from the appreciative audience.

A small cast of six that centred around “Grandad Ken” in every scene gave a mamoth task for Steve McNichol as the lead role,  who was sensational in his portrayal of this pivotal plot, the complex range of characteristics required that were given were superb, the mannerisms, the accent, the postures, the facial expressions,  tempers, restraint,  frustration, constrained love, care, aging, and dementured confusion, just to name a few really showed the dedication and study that was given to this role.  The volume of script needed to be learnt was staggering and yet done amazingly, the switching of ages visibly depicted so clearly in second act scenes, that adulations given were justly deserved, sensational Steve.  The relationship developed between Grandad and the leading “lady” grandaughter Poppy Junior was beautiful to watch throughout. Shannon Waters performed as the “troubled twelve” year old with such energy and character that was truly believable she was that child, a wondrous performance of attitude and sassyness, and yet fear and vulnerability all present together. Her diction, her facial expressions and body language were all so clear and maintained at the high level completely througout – well done Shannon!

Sarah Cameron played Poppy as the adult maintaining the energy and character into the transition of aged character really well too, lovely character and recognisable conflict in the difficult situation of “homing” Grandad, and then super character of explosive anger when secrets discovered. Stunning performance Sarah.  Cameo roles too were all well played, Genevieve the social worker played by Jo-Anne Smith was the loud, bubbly, but caring character, transferring from expert efficiency to emotionally involved in her scenes, and Jess Gelders as the detached family daughter Margaret gave a great performance, distanced in miles and lifestyle from her father, well played.  Great-grandaughter Molly was played by Tilly Whiteway in the final scenes who was worth waiting to see as she too was a believeable child and played with a lovely tenderness.

The set was a great design, striking black and white jigsaw pieces open walls and well dressed scruffy lounge for first act and transforming to care home room for the second act, that worked really well.  Sound cues and music added to the atmosphere and were accurately timed, scene changes piano became haunting throughout. Lighting was effective, especially in the transitions scenes and very nicely done. Costumes were current and age related beautifully, and changes done in quick time. The rollerskates in particular were so well received!  Audience figures were high this week and so well deserved for this was a stunning piece of theatre from Director Mike Crooks, emotional for me and many of the audience, congratulations Mike and to all involved.

Gordon Richardson - NODA President
I was invited by Jean to add my comment - I can't fault Jean's lavish comments on the play - it was phenomenally emotional throughout and high praise goes to the whole cast for taking us, the audience, on a rollercoaster of a journey that was hard to take at times but ultimately we didn't regret the ride. Well Done ALL...