SUE TOWNSEND’S THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE AGED 13¾ THE MUSICAL
book & lyrics by Jake Brunger music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary.
Curve 60 Rutland Street LE1 1SB To 4 April 2015.
Mon; Wed-Sat 7.30pm Tue 7pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.15pm.
Audio-described 2 Apr 7.30pm.
BSL Signed 26 Mar 7.30pm.
Captioned 28 Mar 2.15pm.
Runs 2hr 35in One interval.
TICKETS: 0116 242 3595.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 March.
Elegantly staged musical catches the fun and spirit of A. Mole.
As the full title of this new musical sounds along Curve’s corridor it seems something Moleishly over-precise to employ every word. But this is Leicester, where a girl aged 14 left school as the 1960s dawned, keeping herself and three children while holding-down a series of low-paid jobs (up to three of those at a time too).
It took many years before the writing she somehow fitted-in was published and performed. Then, classy theatres in London became interested – The Royal Court, Max Stafford-Clark’s Joint Stock. But real fame came when Sue Townsend created Adrian Mole, approaching puberty, family upset and the age at which his creator had left school.
So the full title echoing round Curve’s corridor celebrates the connection of author and city while fanfaring her best-known creation’s journey to fame. A year, 1981 to be precise, in his life shows Adrian’s versifying receiving rejections from the BBC which he reads as encouraging – trust an author to know the importance of optimism. Longing for his mother’s return when his parents split-up, he’s even more bothered when his friend Arthur sweeps sophisticated-seeming new classroom-arrival Pandora Braithwaite to the next disco.
The Diary’s consistent flatness of tone can be limiting on stage. But it also forms a love story, with expected rocky rides, ideal for a feelgood musical. The score moves with the words, featuring several recurring passages, telling the story while highlighting feelings. And Adrian’s final triumph, literary and romantic, with his controversial school nativity play, makes a magnificent theatrical climax.
Wonderfully staging all-round, Tom Rogers’ sharp-angled expressionist houses creating a stylised suburban setting, while Howard Hudson’s lighting contrasts it by day and in a darker wash by night, before the shiny smoothness of the nativity scene.
But the greatest success lies in the performances (certainly at this performance), with adults clearly outlining characters and behaviour as seen from a younger perspective, which the young performers, some still teetering into their early teens, others not long there, colourfully present. Luke Sheppard’s production ensuring character not cuteness and an economic, pointed energy which shows their local author made very good.
Adrian: Lewis Andrews/Sebastian Croft/Joel Fossard-Jones/Toby Murray.
Nigel: George Barnden/Kwame Kandekore/Samuel Small.
Pandora: Elise Bugeja/Imogen Gurney/Lulu-Mae Pears.
Barry: Edward Cross/James McJannett-Smith/Harrison Slater.
Grandma: Rosemary Ashe.
Mr Lucas/Mr Scruton: Cameron Blakely.
Miss Elf/Doreen Slater/Mrs Lucas: Amy Booth-Steel.
George Mole: Neil Ditt.
Pauline Mole: Kirsty Hoiles.
Bert Baxter: Neil Salvage.
Director: Luke Sheppard.
Designer/Costume: Tom Rogers.
Lighting: Howard Hudson.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Orchestrator: Paul Herbert.
Musical Director: Mark Collins.
Choreographer: Tim Jackson.
Puppet: Rachael Canning.
Voice/Dialect coach: Charlie Hughes-D’aeth.
Assistant director: Sam Kane.
Assistant Musical director: Sam Sommerfeld.