Edinburgh review: Growth (Summerhall)

This new comedy from Luke Norris has a simple message about growing up and testicular cancer

Andy Rush in Growth
Andy Rush in Growth
© Matt Humphrey

"It’s just a lump in a big bag of lumps!" is how Tobes has been brushing off the bump in one of his testicles for the last two years. But now that a girl he’s just hooked up with through Tinder is looking properly concerned, he’s being forced to face something he really, really doesn’t want to face.

Though you might assume, from the first few scenes, that Luke Norris‘ new comedy for Paines Plough is about cancer, it actually isn’t. Not really, anyway. The problem with Tobes’ balls is a catalyst which provokes a total freak-out and jolts Tobes into re-assessing his life. And what sort of a life is that anyway? His long-term girlfriend was bored with him, he hates his job in a florist and he’s got no plans for the future. He’s going nowhere, basically. The growth in the title is actually not a reference to his tumour, but Tobes himself: it’s time he grew up a little bit.

Like all of the shows in Paines Plough’s nomadic Roundabout stage at the Fringe, George Perrin’s pacey, punchy production is stripped back, relying only on the sharp dialogue, fluid storytelling and some excellent ensemble performances from Remy Beasley, Richard Corgan and Andy Rush. Rush plays Tobes, while Beasley and Corgan play everyone else, from Tobes’ new (female) doctor, to his best friend, who is horrified to be asked to cop-a-feel just in case it’s all a fuss over nothing.

Norris’ script is very funny, throwing laugh-out-loud one-liners out at a rate of knots. It is also eloquent on the way men are more likely to bury any health worries surrounding their knackers and how that can have terrible consequences. Although he is consumed with worry, Tobes is also supremely, and misguidedly, embarrassed. He can’t tell his mum, he can’t contemplate the idea of a plastic bollock or an orchidectomy and he feels horrendously sorry for himself. The fuss he makes and the panic he feels is only put into perspective when he meets someone who really has issues.

At Growth‘s heart is a simple message. Simple, but vitally important: go and get checked, before it is too late, because it might just be nothing. And that’s a message that more and more people need to hear.

Growth runs at Summerhall at 1.35pm on various dates until 27 August.

For all our festival coverage, click here to head to our Edinburgh page