Review: ‘Matilda’ @ Cambridge Theatre

I’m a massive Roald Dahl fan, and finally managed to go and see the musical version of ‘Matilda’ this week, and it was definitely worth the wait.

I’m always mildly nervous about child actors, and this was a stage filled with them – yet my nerves could not have been more wrong. These were kids so talented it made me feel slightly ashamed of myself, their voices were well trained and they were absolute comic gems in places. Matilda (Violet Tucker) was superb, and her telling of the Acrobat and Escapologist story was absolutely entrancing – in fact I’d go as far as to say this was one of my favourite bits of the show. It’s astounding to think this is Violet Tucker’s professional debut, and a credit to her incredibly talent.

As always, favourite characters are soon picked out, and I had three this time, and I’m lightly concerned about my choices – Mr and Mrs Wormwood (Kay Murphy) and Ms Trunchbull were no doubt my highlights! Craige Els was a hilarious Ms Trunchbull, playing the evil headmistress with such comedic contempt that you celebrated her rises and falls without choice – you were thrown about by the pigtails into a world of ridiculous maggoty vengeance, because if it’s not right you have to make it right! Trunchbull’s solo was magnificent, unfortunate when you’re supposed to be rooting against her!

The Wormwoods, on the other hand, were so trashy it was brilliant – they were stereotypes gone crazy! Mr Wormwood’s (James Clyde) solo is a treat that you must make sure you return to your seats for during the interval, it reeks of Tim Minchin’s sardonic style and deliciously satirical critique of society’s priorities, as do many of the other musical numbers.

Speaking of which, shortly after the interval there’s a song performed on swings, ‘When I Grow Up’, and again it was a clear favourite of mine, speaking to the adults and children in the audience equally – in particular, I loved that the adults and children were linked in the performance, because let’s face it, we never truly feel like we’ve grown up until life’s passed us by!

And at the hear of it all, the message that life is more important than petty feuds, bullies and television is one that is carried throughout this – yes, books might be Matilda’s source of adventure, but friends and family are the wonder of the world, and it’s these things that allow Matilda to live her happily ever after at long last.

Fans of Roald Dahl and newbies to his wonderful world alike will enjoy this musical, and best of all the theatre’s cheaper seats in the Upper Circle allow spectacular viewing, so everyone can afford to invest in the magical world of ‘Matilda’.

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