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His parents are rowing and hung over, it’s the beginning of 1981 and Adrian Mole, at the age of 13¾ has decided that a diary is the place in which to confide his secret adolescent thoughts.

And for almost three decades and over eight volumes, the late Sue Townsend (she died in 2014) continued to chronicle the preoccupations of her best-selling creation who started off as a bespectacled, spotty Leicester schoolboy obsessed with the size of his genitalia and with posh new girl Pandora Braithwaite.  .

Originally staged in Leicester a couple of years ago, Luke Sheppard’s lively new production of Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s musical version of the first novel is a cheeky delight, with most of the cast playing multiple roles. So John Hopkins’ lantern jawed Mr Lucas - the smarmy next-door neighbour who steals Adrian’s mum Pauline (Kelly Price) away from her pub-loving husband George (Dean Chisnall) - appears, moments later, as a pigtailed schoolgirl in a gymslip, then as an intimidating headmaster, and bully boy Barry also acts as puppeteer for the family mutt.

The songs are clever, the choreography lively, the push/pull set is appropriately 80’s and the kids (there are three different casts) are terrific. On the night I went, Asha Banks sparkled as a pony-tail tossing Pandora with a social conscience and feminist inclinations and Benjamin Lewis makes the perfect Adrian – a nerdy, poetry–writing, wannabe intellectual who can’t see what’s happening within his own family in the year that Diana and Charles got married and Maggie Thatcher proved that women didn’t have to stay at home and keep house. Great fun. 

Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU

Tube: London Bridge

Until 9 September 2017  

£45.00 plus premier seats & £53.00 meal deals


The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 - The Musical
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