Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Review: Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ The Musical, Curve

Reviewed by Ian Foster Aged 35 ¾ 

“I’m a Mole and not a mouse”

Pre-show
7pm
Just seen the director Luke Sheppard, urgh he’s way too much younger than me.

7.10pm
Just seen the writers Pippa Cleary and Jake Brunger, they’re practically children too. Apparently they all met at uni - they may be winning now but I reckon I did more pub crawls than them though.

7.18pm
I LOVE that the programme is attached to the book itself so for just £5, you get both. You get the feeling Sue Townsend would definitely have approved. (And she did approve of the show, being an active part of the creative process until the sad news of her death last year.) 

7.27pm
There's four kids sharing the role of Adrian, and three for the other three major kids' roles. Tonight we've got
Adrian - Joel Fossard-Jones 
Barry - Harrison Slater 
Nigel - Samuel Small 
Pandora - Imogen Gurney 
I bet they're ridiculously talented. I hate young people. Why didn't my parents put me on the stage as a child, I could have been Wigan's answer to Bonnie Langford.

Showtime - First half
7.33pm
Aw man, there’s a puppet dog. Why puppets, why? Don't they know I don't like 'em and am only pretending to be halfway ok with them now...

7.45pm
Those schoolkids! Rofl as the kids might say. 

7.47pm
I really do love Rosie Ashe.

7.58pm
Unsurprisingly, the young actors really are very good. Gurney's sauntering self-entitlement as Pandora is cracking and Samuel Small as Nigel will definitely be one to look out for.

8.04pm
Tim Rogers’ fold-out set design works really well, I bet he was born in the 90s or something, urgh. 

8.20pm
Just remembered, Kirsty Hoiles (Adrian’s mum) sang a seriously lovely song by Elliot Davis called Still, I should put it on a playlist when I get in. She’s good here too. 

Interval
8.40pm
Aw, I’m rather enjoying this. Whether deliberate or not, the echoes of other musicals play really nicely – I got affectionate hints of Billy Elliot’s ‘The Letter’, Matilda’s ‘Loud’ and Les Mis’ barricades but the old-school Hollywood charm, via lacrosse, of ‘Look At That Girl’ was probably the best bit thus far. 

8.48pm
I want an ice-cream but I’m too cheap to get one. I never get one these days. Where's your mum when you need her?

8.56pm
Spot-check on the audience around me, they're all liking the show. They're also loving the ice-cream, I knew I should have splashed out, grr.

Second half
 
9,03pm
Am loving Amy Booth-Steel’s work, as always and especially with this vivacious multi-roling, but I’d love to see her take a dramatically different choice of role next. I’m excited to see her show her versatility.

9.12pm
The lighting by Howard Hudson is particularly good, taking us in and out of the moments in Adrian’s mind – these diary-writing moments are possibly too few and far between though, Adrian’s voice really is one of the most iconic bits about the character and it’s not always front and centre in the show here. 
But without making it a one-boy-show, how to fix it? 
Good question, we’ll come back to this later. 
No we won’t, it’s too hard.

9.46pm
Can't help but feel the second half isn't quite living up to the first. The episodic nature of the show, borrowing from the episodic nature of the book natch, seems to have lost a little of the energy that propelled us to the interval. I hope they've got something up their sleeve.

9.50pm
They do, the nativity scene. I would happily pay just to see this sequence again. 

10.00pm
Well there you have it, a show with lots of lovely moments in it and a lot of potential. Fossard-Jones makes a great bespectacled leading man but too often it feels like he's a bystander in what is meant to be his story. But there's something apt about seeing a show so connected to Leicester here at the Curve, with its admirable record of nurturing new musical theatre writing, and I'm glad to have been a part of it. Even if so any talented young people were involved. ;-)

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 4th April


No comments: