The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ The Musical – Curve, Leicester

Mole_3235235bHaving not known much about Sue Townsend’s book before attending Adrian Mole, I had the pleasure of being able to watch a musical with an open mind, having had no prior exposition. The Curve is a theatre that I have had the pleasure of performing in myself, and has an earned itself an excellent reputation as one of the best producing houses outside of London, with many original productions and tours originating over the past few years under the direction of Paul Kerryson.

Adrian Mole has a book, music and lyrics by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary who, despite the fact I consider myself to have a broard knowledge of musical theatre, I must confess I had not heard of.

The script is full of laughs, mostly what one would call ‘Dad jokes’ but, audience pleasers none the less. An uninspiring script can often be redeemed by catchy melodies and sing-a-long lyrics, however, although the tunes were well orchestrated and largely in the piano-based style of Matilda, they lacked any real hummable melodies. The lyrics were simplistic, which although it will entertain for the duration in the theatre, are unlikely to leave any lasting impact on the musical theatre repertoire. Where the songs lacked real any real lyrical content or memorable melodies, the mature, comedic and properly teenage performances of young Lewis Andrews (Mole) and his counterparts made the show funny and relatable, as most of the Leicester based audiences marvelled at a look back to their 1980s childhood.

Act 1 could do with a generous cut. The final 10 minutes seemed somewhat out of sequence, with one of the more memorable songs, a lovely 3 part harmony from the Mole family’s individual perspectives, being overshadowed by a typical rebellion song, when it really would have been a nice close to Act 1. Act 2 however, came back with a punch. It ramped up the laughs by a serious number, and a hilarious, almost Spooky Mormon Hell Dream (from Book of Mormon) esque sequence being one of the real highlights of the show.

Grandma’s number- How Could You?- a heartfelt cry of anger to the ex- Mrs Mole after her abandonment of her family, brings a real emotional tone to the show, which perhaps up to that point it was lacking, even with the divorce story line. The mature and rich vocal of Rosemary Ashe brought a real moment of West End quality to Leicester.

The biggest praise of the night goes to the young men and lady, who in the finale sequence of a hilarious and punny Nativity scene and end song, had the packed out at the Curve roaring with uncontrollable laughter.

If Adrian Mole manages to work out it’s timing issues, and gain that one remarkable song that it’s missing (after all, everyone loves ‘Til I hear you sing’ from Love Never Dies, but not so much the musical it’s from), then the superb performances of the small ensemble cast, especially it’s youngsters, may be enough to eventually get it London-bound.

Reviewed by Thomas Cove

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole is playing at Curve, Leicester until 4 April 2015. Click here for more information and to book tickets.

*Please note, this show was reviewed at a preview performance*