Tim Minchin's Dahl musical is deliciously dark
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.
'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.
|Venue name:||Cambridge Theatre||Contact:|
|Transport:||Tube: Covent Gdn|
|Price:||£24-£85. Runs 2hrs 40mins|
Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
- 5 star:68
- 4 star:13
- 3 star:5
- 2 star:5
- 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!!
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!
best musical in London right now. I've seen the show 4 times now every-time I go I love it and everybody I take loves it too. Don't think you need to have kids with you to enjoy this production, you don't. A great night out for the young or the young at heart
I thought it was amazing. Beautiful set and an amazing cast. A wonderful array of songs and music. Each scene was like seeing Roald Dahl write it in front of the audience. No one messed up and no one laughed on stage. The man who played Mrs. Trunchable was surprisingly funny, even though he never smiled. Five stars!
Matilda: was an excellent musical. Couldn't have enough of it! would highly recommend it. The performances were excellent . My 6 year old daughter kept talking about it even the next day!
Matilda - An excellent set with good choreography and music. Excellent cast and theater is comfortable. The show itself is predictable and sometimes the solos are a little over choreographed. The song are part of the narrative of the show, so the songs are not really memorable. Even though they reprise the best material a few times. Might be a little frightening and loud for young children under 5.