Review: Matilda the Musical

The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 6th January 2011

Rating: * * * * *


Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale Matilda was beautifully brought to life by the RSC in its recent three month run in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Royal Shakespeare Company brought together the creative talents of director Mark Warchus, writer Dennis Kelly and composer Tim Minchin – all incredibly talented practitioners in their own right – and created a piece of theatrical joy.

Dennis Kelly is one of the most exciting playwrights working in British theatre today, and despite his style ordinarily being a very broken and nuanced one, his script for Matilda the Musical flows beautifully, creating very real and memorable children. The explicitly childish humour – such as Matilda’s father constantly referring to her a boy – is contrasted subtly with the overall maturity of the script. Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics are delightful; they perfectly capture the limitless imagination of children. The music evokes such an array of emotions within the audience, that Matilda’s solo song provoked tears from audience members. Peter Darling’s propelling choreography and Rob Howell’s bright and engaging design based on alphabet bricks all tie into the adventure.

Warchus’s skilful direction brought an array of exciting characters to life, including the enchanting Matilda, and the evil Mrs. Trunchbull. The decision to cast Trunchbull as a man was a brave and successful one, and she was memorably played by Bertie Carvel. Paul Kaye and Josie Walker were wonderful as Matilda’s neglectful parents. Adrianna Bertola absolutely stole the show with her moving portrayal of Matilda; her energy, stunning voice and pure charm underpinned the magic of the show.

Although the run in Stratford has ended, there is talk of Matilda the Musical transferring to the West End, and potentially even Broadway. It would be a travesty if there was not another opportunity for a greater number of people to experience the sheer beauty of this production.

Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie

Image: Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie