Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Review: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾ at the Leicester Curve Theatre

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾
Leicester Curve Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th March 2015

Restoring my faith in new British musical theatre, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾ is a clever and quirky show with a massive heart. Based on Sue Townsend’s novel, the show follows Adrian Mole's day to day life over the course of a year as he enters adolescent life.

It is a relief to see a new British musical taking stylistic risks which pay off beautifully. Luke Sheppard's production is creative and I adored its style. The small cast work tremendously hard, doubling up as characters of all ages, bringing some fun theatrical humour.

On press night Adrian was played by Joel Fossard-Jones who impressed beyond words as the geeky character whose mind works in exceptional ways. Not only is Fossard-Jones a talented young performer, but he also has strong presence and knows exactly how to work with an audience, inviting them on a very personal journey; it's remarkable to see someone so young master such a skill.

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary's score gleams with charm. The ballad Rosemary Ashe sings in the second act as Adrian's Grandmother is touchingly powerful (Ashe’s performance is stellar throughout) whilst the big cast numbers make their mark.

Elise Bugeja & Joel Fossard-Jones
On one or two rare occasions I thought melodies were a simple and lyrics obvious; plus maybe an extra show-defining number would be beneficial, but overall the music is terrific. 

Although the show is long, Brunger's book moves along fairly swiftly and is consistently funny throughout; I wasn't expecting so much cleverly written (and sometimes not so discreet) adult humour. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾ is an audience pleaser, there is something for everyone

Neil Ditt and Kirsty Hoiles are perfectly cast as Adrian's parents whilst Amy Booth-Steel showcases incredible versatility in various roles, always brightening up the stage. Elsewhere other young cast members impress; Imogen Gurney dazzled as love interest Pandora showcasing hilarious comic timing whilst Samuel Small and Harrison Slater shone as Nigel and Barry. 

Recently we’ve seen several new British musical open in the West End before they were ready. Personally I felt all these shows lacked a strong identity and weren’t quite up to scratch, whereas The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾ knows exactly what it is. With a few minor tweaks here and there the piece would certainly be West End ready (producers were wise to stage an out-of-town tryout). 

I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear of this inspiring, well-crafted new British musical!

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾ runs at the Leicester Curve Theatre until Saturday 4th April 2015. Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

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