Growing Pains

Standing ovations are rare, but the house rose as one at the at the end of Tom Gill’s Growing Pains in tribute to a remarkable performer and a stunning show. The applause was prolonged and there was a sense that people just did not want to leave. Tom, on the other hand, must have been anxious to get away from the heat of the lights and have time to recover from his his theatrical workout.

Tom has a glint in his eye. He knows what he’s doing and he does it brilliantly.

Growing Pains draws on much of Tom’s life for its inspiration. As such it is an intensely personal show, but is in no way self-indulgent and the story is simple. Tom grew up in Salford, the “small town cage” as he calls it, where life was less than easy and family relationships were strained, to say the least. Surrounded by “baghead mates and the dad he hates,” he realises that it’s time to forge a new life elsewhere. He takes a train to London where a new chapter opens in what he calls his ‘journey from heartache to redemption’.

As people pop up Tom’s talents unfold. His accents give them an identity and as they open their mouths their characters are formed. The voice of Jamaican Howard, the neighbour with whom Tom engages in his early years, will linger for a long time. It’s authenticity comes as something of a shock, but it is carried off with sensitivity and affection combined with much amusement. He’s followed by many others.

There are lots of laughs in this show as well as plenty of pathos. At times it almost feels like stand-up comedy, but Tom’s script is meticulously moulded, his comedy is humour and wit and his methodology lyricism. It is this that makes Growing Pains a source of such abundant joy. Tom is a wordsmith and as the show progresses his love of English emerges along with the realisation that the skill he possesses is something of a dying art. He’s twenty-six and with youthful zeal seems to have decided it’s time to launch a campaign for real language, his wealth of his words highlighting the paucity of vocabulary that exists in so many other shows. Tom probably packs more words into sixty minutes than any other performer in town, but it’s how he uses those words that amazes. He has mastered the art of rhyme with delirious dexterity and uses the device to create a form of rap that is anglicised, innovative and inoffensive. This structure gives mesmerising momentum to lines that seem to pour from an endless stream.

If that were not enough, he also sings and plays the guitar. The show includes several appropriately appointed numbers which, of course, he himself composed. His personal style is folk rock but he has also devised an amusing West End musical pastiche that provides a startling departure from his norm.

Tom has a glint in his eye. He knows what he’s doing and he does it brilliantly, clearly relishing every moment. He’s had his pains and now he’s growing. His is a name to follow. In years to come when its flashing in neon lights above a grand theatre, make sure you are one of those who can say, ‘I saw him in Edinburgh, when he was just a lad, and look where he is now!’

Reviews by Richard Beck

Southwark Playhouse

The Lesson

Royal Court Liverpool

Offered Up

Above the Stag Theatre

The Convert

Jermyn Street Theatre

Cancelling Socrates


No Particular Order

Wilton's Music Hall



Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Trapped in a small town cage, Tom trades his baghead mates and the dad he hates for a one-way ticket. But he'll need more than a Young Persons Railcard for the journey he's about to take... Commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre, an explosive mash-up of words, wit, and original songs, Tom Gill (Channel 4, Sky 1) slams us onto the streets of Salford exploring love, masculinity and magic mushrooms. 'A talent to watch' **** ( 'A load of rubbish' (Tom's Dad).

Most Popular See More


From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets