REVIEW: GROWING PAINS (Underbelly) ★★★★

Growing PainsGrowing Pains was commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre and is written and performed by Tom Gill. Gill has acted in film (he was in Eden Lake with Michael Fassbender) and theatre; this is his debut solo show as a spoken word artist and singer songwriter.

Gill has created an intimate and honest piece of storytelling mixed with songs; this is the tale of a young man seeking to escape his life in Salford, leaving behind his friends and bullying father for a new life in London.

It’s an emotional piece with some beautiful wordplay and a strong performance from Gill who switches with ease between the many characters we meet in this tale. He covers a range of challenges: male friendship, mental health, girlfriends and the desire to fit in. These are all addressed from a very personal perspective, we’re left wondering how much is Gill’s lived experience and how much poetic licence he’s taking but this doesn’t distract from the compelling storytelling.

Growing Pains is well worth an hour of your time, the conversations between the characters feel very real. Tom Gill is UK Poetry Slam Champion and on this evidence you can see why.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans

GROWING PAINS plays at the Underbelly Cowgate until 28 August 2016