GT is Team Trunchbull
I have a confession to make.
I’ve never seen the movie version of Matilda and, despite being the only boy in my school who was excused from PE to be allowed to sit beside the football pitch reading book after book, I have no recollection of ever having read Roald Dahl’s original novel. The Witches – that stuck with me forever, for reasons this review can’t help but touch on – but no, not a jot on all things about a schoolgirl with an unhappy childhood, a demonic headmistress and the ability to move things with her mind.
But almost every person I met (and that’s probably more men with a penchant for musical theatre than you might meet in other professions) who have talked about this new stage musical relocated the RSC’s Stratford home to the West End has absolutely raved about Matilda The Musical.
So lets get this right – a musical with singing and dancing children, about a schoolgirl from an unhappy family. And droves of grown men are raving about it. In true Dahlian fashion, I respond to children as the title characters from his afore-mentioned Witches, but even the wickedest witch would melt at this production.
The staging, direction, score (by the ever incredible Tim Minchin) – even Peter Darling’s breathtaking set, stretching out in the theatre before anything has even begun – well, I could literally list everything that’s fantastic about Matilda but I’d owe the writers of the programme a copyright fee.
But obviously, given the ever-so-warm description I’ve painted above, it wasn’t the astounding young cast that stole my heart – it was their nemesis Miss Trunchbull, played by the show-stealing Bertie Carvel. Granted, it probably helped that I sympathised with her character (she’s not too keen on her pupils, in case you haven’t guessed) but I’m still laughing days later at Carvel’s fantastic comedic timing.
That said, I’m not entirely mean – the young cast, who differ from production to production, are brilliant. And even the audience love them more when Trunchbull’s being a meanie.
Tim Minchin, book writer Dennis Kelly and director Matthew Warchus have, without a doubt, created the West End’s most wonderful show in years. Already an award-winner, Matilda The Musical is THE musical to see and I suspect it will be for a very, very long time to come.
Now. About that Witches play…
Matilda is at Cambridge Theatre, London. Details and tickets
Words: Darren Scott
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