The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ the Musical: Ambassadors Theatre, London
Reviewed 31st August 2019
Sue Townsend’s best-selling book The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ has hit the stage in this fun new musical playing at the Ambassadors Theatre for a strictly limited run. The timeless tale of teen angst, family struggles and unrequited love as told through the eyes of Adrian Mole has been an almost cult story since its first appearance in 1982. Brought to life onstage with an original score by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary this production aims to bring Adrian’s story to a new generation of theatregoers.
Fun and upbeat, this musical is great for families. Slightly reminiscent of Made in Dagenham, the music style by Pippa Cleary is light and energetic. Witty lyrics add humour throughout the show and Adrian’s clear awkwardness and teenage angst is something to which many can relate. ‘Misunderstood‘ is super catchy and probably will be the most remembered song from this show but it’s not all fun and games though, there are some serious, moving songs too which are performed brilliantly and definitely add to the story. ‘How Could You?’ and ‘I Miss Our Life’ are two standout songs during the second act where the audience gets the chance to see the true feelings of Adrian’s parents rather than the almost caricature picture that he paints.
The set, designed by Tom Rogers, is brilliant and is used cleverly throughout the show. The large constructed sides of the stage are extremely detailed, full of 80’s references. Considering the relative small size of the stage it never feels cramped, even with lots of set pieces. The transitions are also smooth and well integrated. Lighting by Howard Hudson adds a touch of glitz to Adrian’s perhaps ‘ordinary’ life. The use of snazzy spot lights, colour changes and cleverly used splashes of light really adds to the show.
Just like Adrian is, the cast are aged between 12 and 14 too but don’t let that put you off, their performances are comparable with many adult casts. With four different performers per role the cast seen during this visit comprised of Aaron Gelkoff, Albert Green, Aaron Shaw and Riya Vyas. Aaron Gelkoff is hilarious as Adrian. Just the right amount of self loathing, arrogance and angst. He is able to deliver all of the humour dead pan which works perfectly for the character. His crush, Pandora, played by Riya Vyas is the complete opposite. Composed and confident, Riya plays her with ease. The adult cast all work hard throughout the show often taking on different roles throughout including Adrian’s classmates – a clever idea by the shows writer Jake Brunger.
With bundles of humour, lots of 80’s references and a talented cast this original musical certainly brings Adrian Mole to life! Perhaps not the most groundbreaking show, it is a great escape for a few hours and tonight’s audience certainly seemed to agree.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ the Musical is playing at the Ambassadors Theatre, London until the 28th September 2019. For information and tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Pamela Raith