REVIEW: The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 (Menier Chocolate Factory) ★★★★★
Sometimes, the best show’s are the hardest ones to write reviews for. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 is quite possibly the best musical I have ever seen.
Having never read the books or watched the television series, I went along to this show with no expectations. By the time I left the theatre, my world had been changed.
It’s not often that a musical grabs your attention from the very first few seconds but I was instantly drawn in and have never laughed so much in my life. Whether you lived through the 80’s or have parents who were born in the 80’s (as some of these actors do!) there is something in this show for everyone.
Adrian Mole is a teenager, in the throws of puberty. Girls are starting to become interesting and it is that age where you really start to question what this life is all about. Fighting off the school bullies and feeling misunderstood by his parents, Adrian makes a new year’s resolution to keep a diary and we get taken along on a journey, as the pages are brought to life.
The set design is wonderful, with eighties nostalgia galore. Scenes seamlessly transition with cleverly created set pieces and there is an explosion of colour on the stage. The songs are funny and melodic and the script is hilarious from beginning to end.
Benjamin Lewis (Adrian Mole), Asha Banks (Pandora), Amir Wilson (Nigel) and Connor Davies (Barry) are all wonderful in their roles and it is the adults that take a back seat in this production to let the children shine. Kelly Price (Pauline Mole) does a great job as Adrian’s mother, playing the bored housewife, looking for some excitement in her life and John Hopkins was born to play a headmaster and clearly relishes in the role.
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 is playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 9 September 2017 and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t go on to become the best family show in the West End since Matilda.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Tristram Kenton