Ambassadors Theatre, London – until 12 October 2019
This joyous musical is based on the first book of Sue Townsend’s well-loved series of the same name. Featuring music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary and book and lyrics by Jake Brunger, it’s a marvellous gem of a show, that is truthful, optimistic and a whole lot of fun.
As the school holidays begin, this is the ideal family show, with humour for both adults and children, as well as universal issues that are delivered in a fresh, colourful way. The small Ambassadors Theatre is a perfect fit, as it feels intimate and intricate at once. The audience is transported to the Moles’ family home and whisked up in the trials of being 13 and 3/4.
Luke Sheppard has managed to capture a true warmth with this production. From start to finish there is a perfect balance between truthful characters and caricatures of real life people, and the heart never waivers. The cast do an exceptional job of encapsulating what it means to grow up. Rufus Kampa leads the show with a fantastic combination of awkwardness and charisma. Kampa instantly draws the audience in and gives a performance very truthful of a young teen. In contrast, new girl at school and love interest Pandora (Rebecca Nardin), is confident and over the top in all the best ways. Nardin provides stellar vocals, bright eyes and a very well characterised performance.
The whole cast is very impressive, with Jeremiah Davan Waysome giving a charming performance as Adrian’s best friend Nigel. Amy Ellen Richardson is tender and witty as Adrian’s mum, Pauline and John Hopkins is hysterical as Mr Scruton and Mr Lucas.
With Rebecca Howell’s choreography which fills the stage, Tom Rodger’s slickly designed set which features beds coming out of cupboards, the on the ball cast and highly catchy songs, this is a brilliantly British show.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 & 3/4 is an expressive and animated production, full of heart and energy. The superb cast deliver humourous one liners and more emotional moments with grace and truth, and bring the vivacious score to life well. It’s definitely a must-see for families this summer and is sure to delight throughout its run.
photo credit: Pamela Raith