Since being released in 2010 I have been desperate to see Matilda the Musical. The hype was there and it was hype I wanted to put to the test. I am VERY glad I did just that.
For starters the cast is packed with such disciplined and professional children. They are clearly enjoying themselves yet are always exactly on beat. Their fun and happy go lucky energy is infectious. With fast and complicated lyrics and dialogue I was impressed they got their mouths around it all.
To match this the choreography is strong, sharp and syncopated. Ensembles of both children and adults were seamless and never put a foot wrong. This is particularly evident in the School Song, probably my favourite moment of the show. Movement around the alphabet blocks as they were inserted into the school gates created a combination of the cleverest lyrics and choreography was simply brilliant. The opening number, Miracle and the closing number, Revolting Children were also just a joy to watch.
Matilda herself is played by four different young girls. We were treated to an outstanding performance by Olivia Juno Cleverley who is making her professional debut. Her bio is as short and simple as “enjoys singing in various school choirs”. This blew me away. With no training and no previous experience Olivia put on an expert show.
There are no weak links elsewhere with Elliot Harper’s Trunchball a brilliant fresh take on the intimidating headmistress. Sebastien Torkia also excelled as Mr Wormwood as an animated and hilarious caricature of the dodgy car salesman. Also noted is the gentle Miss Honey who along with Matilda in her softer moments provided emotion and sensitivity to the production. I could go on about every characters brilliance but will stop myself there. I simply now can’t imagine anyone else in those roles, which is a clear cut sign of a fantastic cast.
As well as no weak link in the cast there are no weak elements with set, staging and the production side of things as strong as the cast. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house during When I Grow Up as children and adults soared over orchestra on swings, perfectly encapsulating that childlike nostalgia.
Storywise the team at the Royal Shakespeare Company kept some well loved elements of the film which can often be lost when putting a film on stage such as the dying hair scene and super gluing the hat.
I actually felt they improved on the films plot line with the earlier development of Miss Honey’s love for Matilda and the more attention given to Miss Trunchbull’s Olympic days. This crescendoed into a brilliant gym scene with the children expertly executing all kinds of tricks and the cherry on top being the Trunch hurling herself over a vault box.
Finally, I can’t stop writing without mentioning the music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. Catchy and clever Minchin has hit the nail on the head with his musical interpretation of the film.
I’ve struggled writing this review as I really can’t find the right adjective without constantly gushing over this production, but I can’t help it… This entire production is perfect, and I simply cannot fault it.