High Fidelity review – Nick Hornby's vinyl nerd back in the groove

Nick Hornby’s bestselling 1995 novel about the emotional travails of a record-shop owner has undergone multiple revisions and relocations. There was a 2000 movie set in Chicago and a 2006 Broadway musical based in Brooklyn. That show – with music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Amanda Green and book by David Lindsay-Abaire – has now been adapted by Vikki Stone who has restored the story to its original setting, in Holloway Road, London, and the result is an unexpected delight.

In one way, the subject matter seems unfashionable in its focus on the male ego. Much of the action is seen through the eyes of the vinyl-obsessed Rob who, as he charts the ups and downs of his relationships with women, frequently confides in the audience. The virtue of this version is that it shows precisely why his girlfriend, Laura, dumps him and highlights the nerdiness, as well as the neediness, of all the men in the story.

Compulsive list-making becomes a substitute for emotional engagement, pop-mania breeds a puritanical intolerance and even the guy Laura takes up with turns out to be a hippie throwback. It is Laura’s chum, Liz, who exerts real agency by exposing Rob’s unthinking cruelty.

The chief pleasure, however, lies in the music and the production. Some of the songs – especially Ready to Settle and Nine Percent of Your Love – etch themselves on the memory.

Tom Jackson Greaves, as director and choreographer, achieves minor miracles in a small space and allows the action to spill out beyond the stage into the auditorium. The casting is also good. Oliver Ormson as Rob successfully combines the character’s self-regard with a baffled charm that put me in mind of Hugh Grant, while Shanay Holmes endows Laura with a genuine independence of spirit. There is assured support from Bobbie Little as her wised-up chum and from Carl Au, Robbie Durham and Robert Tripolino as an assortment of hapless males.

A musical that crashed on Broadway has been given new life by being restored to its London roots.

• At Turbine theatre, London, until 7 December.