The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13? is the first book in the Adrian Mole series of comedic fiction, written by Sue Townsend. As likely one of the few left to not have read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ?, I like to think it gave me the benefit of seeing the performance with a fresh pair of eyes and an open mind. The opening number, Another Year, wasn’t as strong an opening as the musical deserved and felt, at times, unrehearsed; a pity as it certainly didn’t represent the performance as a whole. I was also impressed by Samuel Small as Nigel – his smooth moves in particular – and absolutely blown away by Imogen Gurney as Pandora. Other noteworthy performances were given by Rosemary Ashe, who played the Grandma, whose high notes left my mouth hanging agape and the hilariously slimy Cameron Blakely as Mr.
I especially liked the set design with its sharp, angled houses and giant pencils, outlined by pages from, I assume, the very own diary of Adrian Mole.
The best bit was the Nativity scene, for which Pippy Cleary has to be admired for her whimsical lyrics. You certainly shouldn’t be expecting the likes of London’s West End, but The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ? as a musical is a fresh, lively and – simply put – fun show that every Sue Townsend fan should take the opportunity to see.

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Without anything to compare it against, I sat down with no preconceptions of what it should be.
My impression of Joel Fossard-Jones grew throughout as we watched his portrayal of the protagonist struggle through the trials and tribulations of adolescence. From the moment she pranced on stage and delighted us with Look at That Girl, right up to the placenta scene that almost caused me to knock over my wine, I was mesmerised – and you know it’s serious business when spilled wine is involved.
Director Luke Sheppard and designer Tom Rogers have done a wonderful job of introducing us to the world of Adrian Mole. By the end, every single person in the theatre was clutching at their stomach and gasping for air. The story is set between January 1st 1981 and April 3rd 1982, and makes reference to many historic world events of the time, such as the Falklands War and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Turning a book loved by millions into a musical is no easy feat and, judging by the raucous laughter that enveloped me during the lyrical witticisms and gyrating of hips, last night’s audience approved. True, he doesn’t have the voice of someone who has been meticulously trained, but his representation epitomised the essence of Adrian Mole.
The only criticism I have is that there were times when some of lyrics couldn’t be heard due to the volume of the music. Apart from the humorous events described in the diary, a lot of the book's humour originates from the unreliable narration of Mole who naively yet confidently misinterprets events around him.

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