If you’re of a certain age and grew up in a time before Harry Potter dominated childrens literature then the author you went to for a sense of wonder (and often of the macabre) was Roald Dahl. Responsible for a clutch of stories still loved today perhaps his best rounded and most relatable tale is of the book loving rebel Matilda and the mostly ogre-ish adults she is surrounded by.
Regular readers of the blog will be well aware that I enjoy a good musical and am generally impressed by anything the Royal Shakespeare Company put out so it should come as no surprise that I’ve always kept a close eye on Matilda The Musical and have been biding my time for an opportunity to see it.
Thankfully it was worth the wait, a rambunctious, riotous, rebellious bundle of joy that should be on the curriculum for every kid who finds happiness curled up with a book!
The cast revel in every moment, from Elliot Harper’s Miss Trunchbull is a delight, an oppressive dictator in her own school with a passion for order and for chucking delinquents over the roof. Rebecca Thornhill is glorious as the ballroom dance obsessed Mrs Wormwood while Sebastien Torkia brings a hint of Del Boy to Mr as he tries to flog dodgy motors to the Russian mob. His ode to Telly at the top of act two is particularly fun.
Carly Thoms is perfect for the sweet and caring Miss Honey who, along with Michelle Chantelle Hopewell’s inquisitive librarian, proves to Matilda that not all adults are horrible.
Then there are the children… and this lot are very young. It’s always a concern when kids have to carry the plot of a show that runs over two hours (not including the interval) and spend a lot of that time singing and dancing, but this lot are brilliant. They sing, they dance and their charisma shines off the stage!
Chief among them of course is Freya Scott who is every inch the star already, dominating the stage and singing up a storm in Naughty as she outlines Matilda’s urge to ensure everyone is treated fairly and nicely.
Presley Charman gets some great moments as Bruce too and Chantelle Tonolete is wonderful Lavender.
The whole is held together by Dennis Kelly’s book which keeps close to the feel of the original story while adding plenty for the stage and by the surprisingly Sondheim-esque songs of Tim Minchin.
If, like me, you still love to stick your head in a book and long to remember the days you could read for hours unencumbered by the worries of the world then get along and see a kindred spirit’s story writ large across the Southampton stage!
At the Mayflower until July 6 and then on tour. For more info visit