11 January 2011

Matilda: The Musical

On Saturday I saw the new RSC musical production of Roald Dahl's Matilda at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford and was blown away.  (http://www.matildamusical.com/#/home/) My father-in-law had suggested it (and indeed treated us to the tickets thank you Cliff!) and I was so glad as I hadn't heard about it so might have missed out.

It was so good, I'm worried this is just going to be a long list of effusive compliments but nonetheless... Matilda has been adapted from the book by Dennis Kelly and the music and lyrics have been written by the comedian and musician Tim Minchin. The production has found a nice balance between staying true to the book and creating a successful stage experience. The staging is relatively simple (although clearly actually rather complicated and expensive in execution) with changing backdrops and clever touches like desks and chairs that rise from the stage for the school scenes. The songs are a worthy addition - my favourite has to be When I Grow Up which features children swinging over the audience of giant swings that have been lowered from the theatre roof.

The actors were superb. Three girls play Matilda, ours was Kerry Ingram who was adorable but also phenomenally talented. Her acting was convincing, her singing clear and despite everyone I know who has seen it professing 'their' Matilda to be the best, I don't see how anyone could surpass Ingram! The kids who make up her schoolmates were similarly impressive - super talented without venturing into grating precociousness. The set pieces with all the children dancing and singing were some of my favourite (the number whilst Bruce Bogtrotter is eating the chocolate cake is amazing).

The other actor worthy of note is Bertie Carvel who plays Miss Trunchbull and manages to combine the character's atrocious cruelty with humour. The costuming is impressive and Carvel does an incredible job of being a man portraying a woman who is almost a man. If you compare his performance to Quentin Blake's illustrations in the novel, it's remarkable how he has captured it right down to the way he holds his hand. He also manages some impressive gymnastic feats in the musical numbers. The moment where she swings round Amanda Thripp by her pigtails is remarkably realistic and cleverly executed.

All in all, a superb show. Funny, touching and clever, I would heartily recommend it and we are hoping to be able to get some last minute tickets to see it again before it moves to London at the end of the month.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed it was a magical performance (even though I think the description "magical" is a bit over-used these days). The children were thoroughly professional in their performance; the characters were so believable that it really did feel like I was totally absorbed into the schoolroom with them, experiencing all the Trunchbull could inflict!