The Ambassadors Theatre (venue)
03 July 2019 (released)
05 July 2019
Pippa Cleary and Jake Brunger’s family-friendly musical is fantastic entertainment for children, and their parents who remember Adrian fondly – this is a sanitised Adrian, who does not yet spend Saturday mornings masturbating over Big and Bouncy or wishing jealous death on his friend Nigel. He is sweetly confused rather than witheringly contemptuous: a more wholesome version than contained in the books.
Notwithstanding this, Adrian (played by a rotating cast, on this evening by a terrific Rufus Kampa) is just as funny as ever, his intellectual pretensions abruptly punctured by mundane spot concerns. The lyrics are clever, and the energy of the production pulls the audience along with it, bouncing along with Adrian and his tribulations. The main issue remains the fallout from the break-up of his parent’s marriage when his mother Pauline (Amy Ellen Richardson) has an affair and leaves to be with the smarmy neighbour Mr Lucas (a hilarious John Hopkins). Richardson’s Pauline is a nuanced portrait of a woman struggling to make peace with her own life, and the superb duet How Could You with her mother in law (a sprightly Rosemary Ashe) is a standout moment of genuine emotion. In the end though, Pauline returns to her marriage, but without any compelling reason, which is the only aspect of the production that feels dated.
Order restored, Adrian can return to comfortable self-obsession, having written a modern update to the nativity story which has to be seen to be believed and had the audience in hysterics. It’s perfect summer holiday entertainment.
Until 12 October at the Ambassadors Theatre, London. Search tickets below.