Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4

Two reports on this great night out. Well done girls!

1:  By Lady Jane Willoughby Wordsmith

Just ten Rutland Red Hatters took a walk down memory lane to the 1980s – surely it was only yesterday? – to when Sue Townsend created the spotty, funny-sad Adrian Mole… but we were the lucky few at Curve last night.

It was press review night and Queen Tess excitedly instructed us, by secret text message as we were all en route, to walk the red carpet past the paparazzi so we could give them the full benefit of our red hats and purple frocks. (Yours truly was in birthday dress so even more conspicuous than usual.) Not all of us were disappointed when the film crew from East Midlands Today walked past us without batting an eyelid!  We were captured in a group photo for Curve’s facebook page instead.

The show was an energetic roller-coaster from start to finish, and last night’s juvenile leads (in a revolving team) were astonishingly good. Surely two young stars were born in Joel Fossard-Jones and Imogen Gurney as Adrian and Pandora?  The Hatters, like the rest of the audience, especially liked Rosemary Ashe as Grandma and Kirsty Hoiles as Adrian’s Mum Pauline, but really the whole cast (just 10 of them) were good, playing all the supporting roles in every scene in a series of quick-costume-changes. They even changed the set. A special mention for the puppet dog!

The show was brilliantly constructed, with many lines we remembered from the book, re-imagined for a theatrical performance.  I can’t say as I noticed a ‘can’t get it out of my head’ song that will spin off from the musical into the public consciousness, but all the musical numbers really drove the show along and helped to tell the story.

I have rarely spent a night in a theatre where the audience was so engaged with the show, so that when Adrian and Pandora did finally get together at the almost-end of Act One, the theatre erupted into a roar of approval which stopped young Adrian in his tracks, but he rode it like a trooper and let us have our moment.

Of the many funny and heart-warming song-and-dance numbers I will mention only one: the astonishing nativity play finale penned by Adrian and performed by the school cast. It was anarchic fun and utterly insane. When Pandora, in the role of Mary straining for the Virgin Birth, complained that she had got a piece of placenta in her eye, we collapsed in hysterics. I thought Little Miss Do A Lot (our trainee midwife), and Queen Tess would wet themselves.

There was a spontaneous standing ovation. And rightly so: it was a fab night out. If there are still tickets available, you should go and see it. We departed into the frosty night, after Sheila and Helen had been grabbed for interviews by bewildered journalists looking for ‘local colour’…. Now where did I put that dog-eared copy of the book?

2. by Prof. Carol Crimsoncap

Well, I know that we always deserve it, but this is the first time that the red hatters were actually greeted by a red carpet!  Due to a door fault we had to use a side entrance reserved for VIP guests, and ten of us, feeling rather special, met on the carpet for the press night viewing of Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ at the Curve Theatre.

The four press night children – Joel Fossard-Jones (Adrian), Samuel Small (Nigel), Harrison Slater (Barry) and Imogen Gurney (Pandora) – won our hearts. Joel was perfect as the adolescent would-be intellectual complete with spots, untrendy hair, specs, and old fashioned jersey, and Imogen Gurney was brilliant as the precocious, socially superior Pandora.  Adrian promptly fell in love with her when she arrived at his comprehensive from her private school, but she quickly allied herself with his best friend Nigel.  However, Adrian won her over by his poetic qualities and by standing up to the school bully, Barry, who was demanding 20p a week from him.  The musical comprised a cast of just 10, and it was good fun seeing Adrian’s mother, father, teachers and grandmother doubling up as his school friends.

The quick changing set had sharply angled houses chimneyed by the ends of giant pencils, and it was interesting remembering the style of clothes we all wore in the 1980s.  The music was cheesy, but made us laugh and sometimes cry: Adrian’s “I’ll be brave, I’ll be strong, I’ll be friends with Elton John”; grandma belting out “How Could You?”; mum and dad’s “I Miss Our Life”; “If You’d Lived” by the cast at Adrian’s bedside, and the brilliant “The Nativity”.  The dancing was good, and there was a hilarious tango between Adrian’s mother and the creepy next door neighbour Mr Lucus – she later eloped with him, leaving Adrian’s father depressed and boozing.

We were delighted to see in the finale (in our honour!) Pandora wearing a red fascinator for the Christmas party, and even the dog (expertly manipulated by Barry) wore red reindeer antlers.

During the interval our pundit, Southern Belle, was interviewed by BBC East and she said “I cannot believe how marvellous the actors are – all of them.  We are only sitting three rows back and they are all absolutely brilliant….” – this item appeared on the 10.30 pm news that night.  Lady Scarlet of the Dovecote was chatted up by one of the actors due to appear in the forthcoming production of ‘A Beautiful Thing’, but couldn’t remember afterwards whether it was Sam Jackson or Thomas Law.  She was also interviewed for the Curve’s Facebook page – so watch this space!

All in all, a brilliant hoot – thanks as ever to Queen Tess.

Professor Carol Crimson Cap

Age 66½.

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