I love children, their banter, their irreverence and their enthusiasm and there was plenty of enthusiasm as they waited for the opening of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾. Total age range in Tuesday night’s audience at the MAC with plenty of young teenagers who appeared to be engrossed. I queried who was the target audience as this was set in 1981 so references meant nothing to the younger members of the audience and very dated for the older ones. John Lennon had just been shot, Play School was on television with a reference to windows, it was the days of Mrs. Thatcher and coal mines.
At the interval a few of us had a rather cynical view of Sue Townsend’s play based on her book, someone said it was ‘different’ as if that was high praise. But Bruiser Theatre Company know what they are doing and by the end of the evening I had warmed to Adrian and his awful life, living in such a dysfunctional house – mother having it off with the sex bomb next door and then leaving home, father bad tempered and not very loving, granny who wades in to fix everything and Pandora, ah Pandora. Adrian is very sorry for himself, he’s only aged 13¾ and no one loves or appreciates him so he decides to become an intellectual and Pandora fits into that scenario perfectly. Does it work out?
Cast of five play all the roles between them, Colette Lennon, Gerard McCabe, Orla Mullan and Keith Lynch. Adrian Mole is played byAdam Dougal. The acting is excellent, the setting is Leicester and the accents are kept up, good singing and precision timing with the choreographed moves.
Everyone I talked to on the way out of the theatre praised the show, the teenagers said they didn’t know some of the reference to life at that time but that it didn’t matter, it was great fun and they enjoyed it. So the schoolboy from Neil Armstrong Comprehensive School got his message across after all and won a lot of friends. And the good news is his mother came back home and they were a family again.
Bruiser Theatre Company
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾
The Mac Theatre Belfast
Until 7th October and then touring.