Michael's Review

Matilda, A Musical

The RSC's latest venture is into the magical world of Roald Dahl's beloved children's story, Matilda. However, this charming and charismatic production is not exclusively for children. Adults alike shall be enchanted by the intelligent score, composed by Tim Minchin, which finds the perfect balance between comedy and pathos. Matilda tells the story of an extraordinary child, eager to learn, read and discover in the contrastingly unstimulating environment which is her home, with her ungrateful, ignorant parents often mistaking her for the opposite sex. Matilda finds comfort in the world of fiction, an escape in the local library and later a home in the kindness of Miss Honey (Lauren Ward), all whilst being in conflict and competition with her parents and the cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (Bertie Carvel).

Translating Dahl's timeless story into an equally delightful piece of musical theatre is no easy feat, yet Dennis Kelley finds something for every single member of the family. Laughs for the children in the exaggerated Wormwood family household, moving moments in the exchange between Miss Honey and the vulnerable Matilda, a part which is alternated by Adrianna Bertola, Josie Griffiths and Kerry Ingram, and an unforgettable PE lesson with the treacherous Miss Trunchbull which defines the production for what is truly is, the ultimate family theatrical experience. Matilda boasts so many standout performances, from the mesmerising performance of Matilda herself who has the audience's attention from the moment she steps on the stage to the scene-stealing Miss Trunchbull who commands the stage with such effortless execution, a highlight of the production. The choreography, by Peter Darling, supports the production well embracing the children's energetic enthusiasm in each and every scene.

A real star of the production has to be the stunningly simple yet spectacular set design, conceived by Rob Howell, who works well in turning the threatening school room into the intimate Miss Honey's hideaway. Lighting serves the production well, bringing life and energy into the entire theatre, especially during a exotic dance number, not to be spoilt!

Direction is exquisitely executed by Matthew Warchus who takes the audience from the hostile household of the Wormwoods to the simply moving number, “When I grow up”, which will have children dreaming up ambitions and adults reminiscing about their youth, a truly magical moment in the production. The musical stands alone from Dahl's novel as it's own creative force - using the magic and mystery of Dahl's original tales and combining this with the musical's energetic and moving music and perfect performances by the RSC company. Matilda proves to be hypnotic, taking the audience on a journey they didn't sign up for, something rare and rich, a revitalising experience for the adults among the audience and something magical and mesmerising for what could be a young person's first theatrical experience, Matilda stands to be one of the best British musicals to emerge in recent years, a true pleasure and a must see.

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