It’s been nearly five years since Matilda opened at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon and four since it transferred to The Cambridge Theatre in London. What was billed as an RSC Christmas show has gone on to be a global phenomenon – and it’s easy to see why. It’s all just so splendidly creatively ‘Dahl-ishly’ brilliant.
From the moment it starts there’s such an energy and joy to the play that it’s hard not to be enthralled – it’s inventive, witty and at times tongue in cheek, as well as being physically demanding and full of little quirky twists and surprises that you know Roald Dahl would have loved.
There are stand out performances from Charlotte Scott as Miss Honey, Tommy Sherlock and Kay Murphy as the gruesome Wormwoods and Craig Eels as the terrifying Miss Trunchbull – but, quite rightly, it’s the children that steal the show. There was a gasp from the audience as the tiny Matilda (Anna-Louise Knight) finally appears on stage – she looks so perfectly vulnerable and innocent – but she soon shows that she is a girl who knows how to stand up for herself and for the right thing. Anna-Louise Knight was flawless in her performance as were all the children who throw themselves into their dances and synchronised scenes with such delight and expertise that you can’t help but smile. They’re cheeky, rebellious and anarchic, and it’s really infectious.
Dennis Kelly has written a punchy, dark, twisted and hilarious script and Tim Minchin matches it with tongue twisting songs and marvellous melodies that make you want to stand up for what’s right and revolt against the bad guys.
The show has deservedly won zillions of awards and five star reviews and is currently showing on Broadway and is next set to open in Sydney while another cast tour the United States, so it looks as though millions more people will get to experience the imagination and brilliance of Matilda. Quite right too. The standing ovation and delightfully teary faces at the end of the evening says everything about a show that’s charm is glorious.
Review by Roz Wyllie
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