The red carpet was rolled out and the atmosphere was certainly buzzing on the opening night of the long awaited production of the local and critically acclaimed late Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.
The hype both locally and nationally has been enormous, with the attendance ranging from the likes of Christopher Biggins to many 30 somethings, that made much of the following of the confused teenager back in the 80s. The audience excitedly watched the hard work of Director Luke Sheppard turning a cult adolescent book into a stage performance.
The simple yet effective stage set made use of the limited space for a musical shot in numerous locations. The cast was limited, made up of just 10 talented actors, who between them played multiple roles. As talented as they were it did get confusing in parts as the actors went from playing aged friends such as Bert Baxter to fellow class mates of the angst ridden teenager Mole. Still sporting his white hair and beard it made the transition a difficult one to comprehend by many of the audience. The performance enoyed a vast spectrum of musical genres and took the audience on an emotional roller coaster of humour, family breakdowns, politics, love loss and anxiety of adolescent hormones. In parts I admit I found the musical a little difficult to follow, but still found myself with a smile on my face throughout.
The confident and near perfect acting of Joel Fossard-Jones as Adrian, Samuel Small as Nigel, the heartless friend that stole ‘Pandora I adore ya’ from Adrian, Harrison Slater who played the bullying Barry and Mole’s love of his life Pandora, played by Imogen Gurney can hold their heads up high with pride as they executed their roles well and were rewarded with a standing ovation.
The local audience, who hold the book and it’s writer Sue Townsend so close to their hearts, was always going to be a tough crowd to please. However the standing ovation, wolf whistles and chatter in the auditorium at the end if the performance spoke for itself. With a few tweaks both technically and as the performance takes shape over time, this will be a musical that will continue to win the hearts locally and nationally for many years to come … Signed a ‘Misunderstood Intellectual’ aged 35 3/4
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole runs at Curve until Saturday 4 April. Tickets can be purchased from the Curve website.
Review by Vinny Ghuman Manak.