I'm Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire

Set in 2004, this play is a homage to the early 2000’s and especially the teenage experience of this time. With the rise of the internet teenagers felt more connected than ever, but this story follows Shelby Hinkley (Tessa Albertson), a 14-year-old girl who on the surface seems like any other – but when we delve deeper, we learn she is a young woman navigating her way through trauma. 

She has developed an obsession with Tobey Maguire (Anders Hayward), most famed for his role in ‘Spiderman’, she had adorned her basement in cut-outs from magazines of his face, the entire theatre has been decorated as such, even before you enter the theatre there are chalk writings of ‘I Love You Tobey’ on the pavement outside, cardboard cutouts are dotted around the lobby and the bathrooms have been covered floor to ceiling of pictures of Tobey Maguire, you really do feel like you are entering the brain of a 14 year old girl. Shelby seeks solitude in the Tobey Maguire Fanclub of which she is the president...and she’s also kidnapped him from his dentist appointment and is keeping him handcuffed in her home...not the start to the play I was expecting.

This play lies somewhere between farce and thriller – not 2 genres that usually go hand in hand. They do not always blend seamlessly here; it does feel that maybe the writing should have focused on one more than the other rather than trying to mash comedy with chilling moments. There are some very strong moments of humour, mainly coming from Kyle Birch in several cameo roles – Kyle really proves ‘there are no small parts’ as they bring the comedy to the piece perfectly and make the most of every moment they are given on stage. There are also many times of uncomfortable darkness, especially as we watch Shelby spiral further and further into her delusion that she really can live happily ever after with Tobey Maguire, but when she learns he maybe isn’t the man she though he was, things start to take a turn for the worse.

Tessa does incredibly well in the role of Shelby, playing a teenage girl who is struggling her way through life and does something rather drastic. Over the course of the evening, we learn her only friends are online, her mother is uncaring and her father is absent from her life. This has left her feeling lost and unwanted, so in a bid to feel important, she decides she will marry Tobey Maguire. Tessa perfectly captures the innocence of the character, while maintaining the mental struggles in a respectful way. There could be a risk of overplaying this role and at times the performance does border on this but always stays on the right track and by the end you do empathise with her.

Anders Hayward does well as Tobey Maguire, with a nonchalant air to him, giving us a vulnerable performance and view of the A-lister he is emulating. Anders really shines in a small audience participation section later in the play, though this section does feel out of place and brings us out of the world they have created around us.

This play is chaos from start to finish and although the performances are enjoyable and the throwbacks to the early 00’s with the songs used throughout and the overall design bring a nice hit of nostalgia for those of us who were of a similar age at the time, the writing feels like it can’t quite decide which genre it wants to sit in and some sections feel longer than necessary at a nearly 2 hour run time, this may benefit from some refinements and possibly more focus on the darker themes within the piece.

This show was reviewed on the 4th July 2024 at Southwark Playhouse Borough where it runs until the 10th August 2024.  Tickets available here: I'm Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire - Southwark Playhouse

Review written by Rosie Browne


Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

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