Miria Parvin (Miss Honey) and Craige Els (Miss Trunchball) in 'Matilda'
Craige Els (Miss Trunchball) in 'Matilda'
Sharlene Whyte (Mrs Phelps) in 'Matilda'
Michael Begley (Mr Wormwood) in 'Matilda'
Tim Minchin's wickedly good story of a schoolgirl genius is still irresistible
'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 loathsome father Mr Wormwood was so greasily repellant that just watching him made you feel you needed a scalding shower, Steve Furst has more of a wide-boyish, casual cruelty; Annette McLaughlin as his Latin-dancing wife is a leggy wonder of ripe raspiness, spite and vanity. And Haley Flaherty is winning as the kindly Miss Honey, neatly side-stepping priggishness and conveying the tremulous courage of the much-kicked underdog, with a singing voice of sweetness and power.
As for the children, they are irresistible, stomping and skipping through Peter Darling's angular choreography, thrilling young audiences and push-pulling grown-ups from tears to gasps to laughter with such relentless energy that it leaves you breathless, exhilarated and marvelling at the many ways in which Minchin, Kelly and Dahl demonstrate that growing up is a lifelong endeavour. For kids, yes, but also for the children that we all remain at heart, this is wise, wicked, glorious fun.
This review is from 2012. The cast of 'Matilda' now includes Craige Els as Miss Trunchball, Michael Begley as Mr Wormwood, Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood, and Miria Parvin as Miss Honey. The role of Matilda is shared by Emma Moore, Abbie Vena, Eva-Marie Saffrey and Lilian Hardy.
How to get cheap tickets: £5 day seats for 'Matilda' are available for young people aged 16-25 only. Arrive at the Cambridge Theatre box office well before it opens at 10am for your best chance of buying a ticket. One seat per person. In person only.
|Venue name:||Cambridge Theatre||Contact:|
|Transport:||Tube: Covent Gdn|
|Price:||Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50|
Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
- 5 star:69
- 4 star:13
- 3 star:5
- 2 star:6
- 1 star:2
Very slow first half ... Poor sceens of endless library , feel asleep . Matilda boring no expression . Second half picked up a bit as teacher could act, a few more diff sceen changes and some story finally!! However end was rushed not sure why, as they could of lost half of the repetitive sceens in the first half. It would of been nice to see the teachers house at lest!!
Top notch family entertainment with an added injection of girl power. I was shockingly Matilda naive having never read the book or seen the film but was completely swept up with this joyous romp of a show. Fantastic set, talented cast, witty lines & enjoyable songs. Tim Minchin is a genius & this is a true classic.
With the UK in the grips of #Brexit turmoil, we decided to entertain the kid in us and watched Matilda last night. Clever technical production, extremely talented kids that really make you question your ow shortcomings, dancing around sharing the joy of being a kid. The theatrical performance was engaging, music was melodic and the cackles of the kids in the audience made it even better. If you grew up watching the movie, it's a must-see. If you haven;t watched the movie (like me), it'll make you want to watch it.
Absolutely brilliant!! Seriously talented kids in the production and larger than life characters to entertain all. The production as a whole was really impressive and captured the magic of the story. Definitely worth going to see!
I bought tickets to see Matilda with my Mum for her birthday, and we both absolutely loved it. While not on par with The Book of Mormon for comedy or The Lion King for the set and over all enjoyment, this is a lovely production which is definitely worth seeing. Matilda, for one, is a brilliant little actress who completely steals the show. She's on stage for pretty much every scene and has so many lines that I have no idea how she remembers them, but she does a fantastic job and brought a tear to my eye (and a full on sob from my mother) at the end of the show! Miss Trunchball is also amazing. While not as scary as the lady in the film (although I was 6 when I first saw it at the cinema so that may have something to do with it) she makes a brilliant, and very funny villain - My only complaint is with the bar, who charged us £7 for a small glass of wine in a disposable cup!
This has to be one of the most insightful, refreshing productions on the West End at the moment..written by an Australian no less. This is the Pixar/Disney of musicals at the moment. There is a layer of complexity and maturity that will have adults nodding (and crying) in agreement and children laughing at the antics and crossdressing. The children are often oblivious to how poignant this production is in recalling the joy of childhood and our view of adulthood from this time in our lives. Melodically you'll come out singing most of the themes, and love the staging. Take the kids, but don't let them see you love it more than them!
Loved it, loved it, loved it!
I watched it with my wife before we had kids, I've now watched it with my 5 year old, and I've watched it with my friends.
Everyone I recommend says it's the best show they've watched in years - I have to agree myself!
I've seen this three times now with different casts and kids of various ages. It's a stone cold British classic. It's so much more subtle and beautifully put together than pretty much anything else on the West End. I took my five-year-old when it first opened and he still talks about it. I honestly think it'll be something that stays with him, even when he grows up.
Mrs Trunchball is up there with our favourite scariest women on the West-End. This production is worth seeing for the chill factor alone!
Simply the most wonderful Musical we have ever seen (and we have seen lots). The cast is outstanding - evry last one. The staging is awe-isnpiring and the music by Tim Minchin is, oh, so very very clever and engaging. Why is it that we cannot stop listening to it for the past 2 months? Our children know all the words and we cannot get enough of it. "Quiet" is simply the most thought provoking and moving song imaginable. Well done to everyone - this will be around for years and years - and a good job too, as we intend to see it again several times...
this production is an absolute joy - from beginning to end. You will cry, you will laugh - it has something for everyone - children and adults alike, and will hopefully be around for years and years to come. I cannot wait to see it again and I cannot wait to have children so that I can take them to see it one day!
Our 5 year old daughter loved it. We LOVED it. A totally stunning show and on every single level the best theatre experience we have ever had... it is not just a kids show it's an everybody show. The ticket queues should be runing round the corner down the road and on and on for miles..... we can't wait to see it again.
when most mainstream london shows aimed at kids or adults are difficult to stomach (a bit like going to see a live performance of the "daily mail") this show stands apart. i found this amazing - funny, original, great individual performances, brilliantly paced, moving. minchin's great lyrics. the only time i have ever been to the theatre and can honestly say i did not wish for the interval or the end. above all, the central idea: "if things are not right, fight to put them right", is so simple and empowering I am very glad my six year old (and me) got to see it.