'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents. Opening to rave reviews in Stratford-upon Avon before transferring to the West End in 2011 and snatching up Olivier Awards with all the alacrity of a sticky-fingered child in a sweetshop, Matthew Warchus's RSC production remains a treat. With hindsight, Kelly and Minchin's musical, born of the 1988 novel by that master of the splendidly grotesque Roald Dahl, is a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward. But like the curly-haired little girl in the famous nursery rhyme, when it is good, it is very, very good. And it's even better when it's horrid. The past few months have seen some cast changes, including, alas, the departure of Bertie Carvel's tremendous Miss Trunchbull, headmistress of the dread Crunchem Hall School, former Olympic hammer-thrower and a gorgon of monumental nastiness, complete with scarily Thatcher-esque tics of purse-lipped gentility and faux concern. David Leonard doesn't quite match the squirm-inducing, hair-raising detail of Carvel in the role, but his more butch, granite-faced version is fantastically horrible nonetheless. And if Paul Kaye as Matilda's loathso
Aussie musical comedy maestro Tim Minchin explains how he keeps his hair so sexy and why he doesn’t bother wearing shoes. Well, you lot did ask Google…
How does Tim Minchin do his hair?
‘The trick to having this incredible hair is not washing it, basically. So I wash my hair once every couple of weeks, and that’s about it. And sometimes when it’s clean I put some stuff in it to speed up the dirtying. Although the natural processes of grit are the best product if you want to look feral.’
Is Tim Minchin related to Louise Minchin?
‘Well, yes, but only in the way that I’m related to you – the asker of the question – and bacteria and fish and bark. But I’m sure I’m closer… More closely related to Louise, but I haven’t tracked it.’
Why does Tim Minchin perform barefoot?
‘I sort of started performing barefoot when I was doing tiny venues in Melbourne – that’s probably a leftover element from being a ’90s sort of hippy in Perth. But it made me feel braver or something. It’s like saying, “You’re in my house now,” sort of thing.’
What is Tim Minchin famous for?
‘Well, that’s one of the great joys of my career, I get people walk up to me on the street – especially in America, where I’m not so well known – and they go, “I’m a big fan!” and I get to say, “What of?” And they’ll go, “Well, ‘Matilda’!” And I‘ll go, “Oh, cool.” Or they’ll go, “Well, you’re Atticus Fetch,” which is my character on “Californication”. Or they’ll go, “Well, Storm.” It’s really really fun.’
Is Tim Minchin racist?
‘Am I racist? I suppose so, in the way that we all are on some deep level, mildly xenophobic. But people who get to say whether people are racist are the victims of it, aren’t they? So if anyone ever has felt victimised by anything I’ve said I guess, to them, I’m a racist. It would be very very upsetting to me if that were the case, but, you know, what the fuck would I know?’
Is Tim Minchin Keith Lemon?
‘Ah, yes. Yeah, that’s weird, that’s a weird thing for me, because I had no idea about the existence of Keith Lemon because I come from Australia. But, yeah, people have said that. Do we look the same? [Interviewer: “Not really!”] Good, then no, definitely not. Again, I might be. I could be a computer manifestation of an advanced technological society – I don't know.’
Tim Minchin’s ‘Storm’ is published by Orion on Thu Oct 16 2014.