SUE Townsend’s classic book about teenage angst is performing in York until Saturday.

The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ The Musical is delighting audiences at Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre.

The show is a British amateur premiere of the Brunger & Cleary version on an open-plan traverse stage that evokes both 1980s’ Leicester school rooms and house interiors.

We see Adrian (Jack Hambleton) against the world, whether having to contend with playground bully Barry Kent (Guy Wilson); endless spots; disciplinarian, narrow-minded headmaster Mr Scruton (Adam Sowter), or Nigel (Flynn Coultous), his rival for school crush Pandora (Emily Halstead).

Or Bert Baxter (Ian Giles), the 89-year-old curmudgeon that Adrian has to deal with on his Good Samaritans visits; or teacher Miss Elf (Florence Poskitt), never marking his work as highly as he thinks he deserves, or his struggles in the family home, where mother Pauline (Toni Feetenby) is being distracted by smarmy, hands-on neighbour Mr Lucas (Andrew Isherwood), and his father, George (Alan Park) is at a low ebb. At least Grandma (Sandy Nicholson) is there to comfort him (and squeeze his spots).

Amid the constraints imposed by performing in pandemic times, Readman decided to keep his cast size trim, by having adults play children as well as the adults, aside from the four teenage protagonists, performed by the already name-checked Team Townsend on press night, alternating through the run with Team Sue (Flynn Baistow’s Adrian, Benedict Wood’s Nigel, Dotty Davies’s Pandora and Freddie Adams’s Barry).

This was an inspired decision, with extra fun to be had in seeing faces so familiar on the York stage revert to teenage tropes, especially in the ensemble numbers.

Readman’s decision also enhances your appreciation of the young performers, Hambleton’s beleaguered Adrian narrating with a hangdog expression; Halstead’s posh but socially aware Pandora being every inch the head girl in waiting; Coultous’s Nigel staying both perky and pesky throughout, and Wilson’s Barry casting his black-clothed shadow with a panto villain’s glee.

Brunger and Cleary’s songbook is savvy and witty in its lyrics, if more workmanlike in its tunes, but keyboard player Tim Selman’s band (with Jonathan Sage on woodwind, Rosie Morris on bass and Clark Howard on drums) gives it plenty of oomph. So much so, the sound balance on Wednesday sometimes made it hard to hear Hambleton clearly when narrating to music.

Readman has picked a tremendous cast all round. Technically not a Christmas show, nevertheless the diary’s timespan from early-Eighties’ New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Eve means it sits well in the winter season.

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