Friday, August 9, 2013
Matilda the Musical Review- Cambridge Theatre
"Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable...” – Roald Dahl
Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly certainly don’t produce musicals by halves judging by the sensational hit that is Matilda the Musical. It is no surprise that this show stormed the 2012 Olivier Awards; the entire production is as exciting and intricate as the glorious set that greets the audience as soon as they step into the auditorium.
Roald Dahl’s story follows the first few precious years of the life of Matilda Wormwood, a little girl who adores stories and embodies the imagination and intelligence we all wish we had. She is underappreciated by her scheming, television obsessed family and is especially detested by the headmistress of her new school, the formidable Miss Trunchball. Along with her classmates and their kind teacher, Miss Honey, Matilda shows the adults of the world just how powerful a young mind can be, and how important it is to keep the child within us alive.
“Dahl’s love of language and the musicality of words, combined with his ability to make us laugh at subjects that are a little bit dark and scary, meant that for me, being asked to write songs for Matilda was like Bruce Bogtrotter being offered a jam doughnut.”- Tim Minchin. There really isn’t anyone more perfect to write the songs for such a story as this- Minchin’s lyrics are catchy without being cheesy, kid friendly without being condescending, and moving without being too severe. The story has been made even more invigorating by Peter Darling’s outstanding choreography, which all the cast execute with an abundance of energy and precision.
Four young ladies shoulder the responsibility for the lead role, and this particular night Matilda was portrayed by Christina Fray. For such a small girl to demand the attention of a huge audience takes a lot of talent and stage presence, and the fearless Christina has no trouble with keeping everyone captivated. Her Matilda is mature but spritely, and her voice is faultless. Michael Higgins as Bruce Bogtrotter is also a memorable performer, and almost had the audience on their feet during the song ‘Revolting Children’. David Leonard as Miss Trunchball is an example of genius casting; although a male playing a female character sounds pantomimic, Leonard’s portrayal is masterful and domineering, yet maintains the ability to make the audience laugh at will.
From Paul Kieve’s innovative illusions to the outrageously fun set designs and hair styles, Matilda the Musical is an unstoppable theatrical force. Thoughtful, delightful, and mischievous, it is the best show for the young and the young at heart.