For anyone that doesn’t know the story, Matilda, our young heroine, is a bright, well read, intelligent and articulate five year old who for all of the reasons above is held in contempt by her telly-addicted family. Added to that is the dreaded, sadistic headmistress Miss Trunchbull and her medieval punishments. Matilda, however, ultimately finds herself blessed with telekinetic powers, a kind hope in Miss Honey and a way to fight back against the vile adults surrounding her. Now celebrating its sixth year on the West End stage, with numerous awards under its belt, Matilda is going as strong as ever, writes Rosie O’Connell…
Dennis Kelly has adapted Roald Dahl’s story wonderfully, maintaining the heartfelt humour and tenderness found in Dahl’s words while also balancing his famous grotesque vulgarity. Tim Minchin’s score and lyrics are clever and witty and blooming catchy too, from the tongue in cheek show opener ‘Miracle’ to the anarchistic punch of ‘Revolting Children’ to close, it would be a struggle to leave the theatre without at least humming along.
The child cast are foot and pitch perfect throughout, all gleefully dishevelled and devious. Matilda of course stands out with her perfect balance of solemness and mischievousness exemplifying the line ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’. David Shannon is appropriately horrifying as the monstrous Trunchbull, and Tom Edden and Marianne Benedict are again appropriately vile as Mr and Mrs Wormwood. The choreography is sharp and exuberant, with its ensemble numbers packing a punch and with set pieces such as swings and piles of books and alphabet blocks used to full effect.
What is achieved here is taking a story that is so familiar to so many and turning it into a new experience all over again. I myself grew up reading and rereading the book and watching and re-watching the film adaptation of Matilda and yet I was happily surprised at every turn of the production. It allows you, even as an adult, to watch with that eye-bulging glee, joy and wonder that you don’t often get when you’re grown up.
Matilda The Musical is on at The Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, WC2H 9HU until May 27th 2018.
Tues – Sat 7pm; Wed and weekend matinees at 2.30pm.
Admission: £20 – £74.50.
Phone: 0207 087 7745.