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White woman hugging actor playing Toby Maguire

I'm Gonna Marry You Toby Maguire at Southwark Playhouse (Jul 24)

July 05, 20244 min read

In a past life, I had a Justin Bieber fan account on Twitter. What's more Justin Bieber followed me back in 2012. Not just Justin Bieber but the High School Musical and Jump In! legend that is Corbin Bleu also followed me. Me! I was 14 years old. Over ten years later despite the cringe, the moment brings me now, it meant everything to my younger self. So, to say I was invested when going to I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire is no flippant statement. This one was for teenage Mary.

The show has crash-landed straight from its sold-out New York premiere to London. This is the wild ride of one teenage girl who locked up the IT boy of 2004 in her basement and how exactly he got out with enough time to make Spiderman 3.

From the moment you walk into Southwark Playhouse Borough, the toilet stalls, the walls, the stage of the Little are adorned with the face, the shameful smoking habits and the past flames of 2000s heart-throb Spiderman, Toby McGuire. Even outside the theatre, there are chalk lines marked out on the pavement. Strangely, I felt I too like Shelby Hinkley, the 14-year-old president of the Toby Maguire fan club with a wedding dress on and flower petals in hand. If there is one thing that you don’t mess about with, it’s stan culture. From the Beatles to One Direction, BTS or Taylor Swift, there’s no one we dislike more in popular media, or relate to than 14-year-old girls.

In this show, we are all members of the fan club and Hinkley is our prophet. I have to say the script by Samantha Hurley is one of my recent favourites and the best that I’ve heard in a long time. No time is wasted, every line leads to a chuckle or a gut punch. At times it was as if I was back in secondary school, which was personally terrifying.

This 105-minute show is quick, deadly and full of moments of unhinged teenage rage. As Shelby, Tessa Albertson is a death-dropping, lip-syncing nightmare, the final boss of just how badly parasocial relationships can get. At times, her performance comes across as if she is possessed and still within the same beat, she is able to show us that there’s a kid lurking behind the butterfly clips and studded belts.

We can admire Shelby’s passion and sense her discomfort at growing up, the dropped calls by so-called friends, the awkward dances and the faith that we all put into magazine quizzes to check if this boy is ‘The One.’

This is matched by the energy and the object of her obsession, Toby Maguire. Played by Anders Hayward, who spends roughly 75 percent of the show chained to a pole. Hayward is able to not only convince us that he is in fact Toby Maguire but also peels back the layers to show us and Shelby, that Hollywood is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Shelbey Standing On The Stage

For me, one highlight is the audience interaction, where Hayward is crawling across the audience as Spidey himself. While I am not as much as an avid fan of Maguire as Shelby, his delivery as the very real actor was both very like and yet distant from the IT boy.

This shattering of the self-showing behind the Hollywood actor was built up so delicately before ultimately crashing to new lows. It would be not only a disgrace to myself but the show if I failed to comment on Kyle Birch, who is listed as playing just Brenda Dee Cankles but does so much more. They are Hollywood. They are the actor, Toby Maguire, whom we see on the walls of the theatre, armed with a blonde wig, a black hoodie and a dream. Every time the poster of Toby Maguire spoke, I leaned in.

Tyler Struble, who also served as director in New York, clearly knows the show well and loves the writing dearly. This shows in how they capture those moments of pure teenage embarrassment, the wins that seem that bit bigger when you’re a teen, shame about our past and the big question of are we doomed to recreate our parents. No moment to further immerse ourselves in 2000s culture was missed from Complicated by Avril Levene and Lucky by Britney Spears.

The set was as Y2K as you can get with fluffy carpet, Barbie Mermen, lava lamps and more. A wonderful eye for detail by Rodrigo Hernandez Martinez.

The costumes were fantastic across the board with the dress-over-jeans flashback to Disney Channel being very appreciated.

A big thank you to Reuben Speed for reminding us of those fashion mistakes we thought were oh-so-cool. Amid this fantastic job of bringing us back to 2004, Hayward entered and once they turned their back to our section of the stage, we saw a large Monki logo (I believe Monki did not exist until 2006 but I’m nitpicking).

I’m Gonna Marry You Toby Maguire is for anyone who had a Tumblr in 2014, for anyone who was picked last at school to play and found community elsewhere.

It’s the story of one girl who is learning how to grow and perhaps not going about it the best way. It’s for your younger self and mine. Anyways, here’s Wonderwall.

Black Woman Laughing

🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕 5/5 Moons

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Mary Condon O'Connor

Mary is an Irish theatre faciliatior working alongside communities. She loves theatre and music, especially new writing.

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