Matilda the Musical, Cambridge Theatre | Review




Matilda
Cambridge Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 11th September 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

On the week of Roald Dahl's birthday, it seems only right that I made a return visit to Matilda to experience the magical story on stage, helmed by a new cast who are bringing it to life with as much energy and wonder as when it opened eight years ago in the West End.

The RSC's production takes aspects of the much-loved original book and film and combines them with theatrical magic to create a show which delights adults and maggots alike. Laughter and beaming smiles fill the Cambridge Theatre as this delightful musical inspires and wows.

Matilda is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by the wonderfully wacky Australian, Tim Minchin and direction from Matthew Warchus. The score features intensely catchy melodies and lyrics which are fast, witty and beautiful as well as a book which is filled with humour for adults and children. This combination makes it the perfect treat for the whole family, who will be reminded of the magic and darkness ingrained in Dahl's writing.

The lyrical ingenuity is brought to life through Peter Darling's incredibly precise choreography, which makes use of the entire set and highlights what a well oiled machine this production is. In particular, School Song is a showcase of faultless timing, a stellar cast and innovative lyrics combining in a way which is overwhelmingly wonderful. The entirety of this production is choreographed to the second but each moment still manages to feel fresh and it's clear that the incredibly high standards maintained are what make this show a continual success in London.


Adorned with various alphabet pieces, Rob Howell's set is a star of it's own. Like the characters on stage, each individual piece comes together to create a marvellous wall of colour and interest. Hugh Vanstone's lighting complements the whole production, creating drama and joy and highlighting the contrast between the sweet Matilda, the loud, raucous Wormwood's and terrifying Miss Trunchbull. Extravagance and nuance are used in equal measure to create a pitch perfect piece of theatre.

The cast of this show bring to light just how much talent there is in the West End. Throughout there is not a weak link, and each performance is a stand out in itself. Our young (and tiny) leading lady, Tilly-Raye Bayer is luminous as she rattles through the bold show. Her energy and charisma shine from the outset but she also manages to create intimate moments of peace and sadness. As a character, Matilda is the perfect example of how to get through life. Tenacious, kind and clever, she uses all she has within her to inspire change and bring positivity to those around her. From the young cast, mention must also go to Louie Gray who is astounding as Bruce Bogtrotter.

Sebastian Torkia and Marianne Benedict as Mr and Mrs Wormwood are suitably garish and LOUD. With the pair's fantastic comedic timing they have the audience in hysterics as they show off just how few brain cells they have. Both make their characters bold and slapstick but are tame enough to stop them becoming panto-esque. This is again thanks to the brilliant writing which knows just when to give and take.


As ferocious Miss Trunchbull, Elliot Harper gives his all and his all is certainly enough. There isn't a moment which feels out of character, from repulsive scenes to grossly hilarious comments, Harper brings the headmistress to life exceptionally. With amazing attention to detail and stirring delivery of his dreams of a childless world, Harper is divinely awful.

In contrast Gina Beck is wonderfully understated and, as her name suggests, sweet. The relationship between Matilda and her teacher is touching and the audience really root for the pair. As the Doctor and various other characters Kane Oliver Parry shines vocally. Every single adult performer gives a super sleek performance as they bring multiple characters to life and perform the choreography with pin-stripe precision. Extremely well characterised, they create a real body of sound and action and imbue the show with magic. It should also be noted that Matt Krzan is fantastically flamboyant as Rudolpho; Gemma Scholes is the definition of grace as the Acrobat; and Georgia Carling, Connor Lewis and Ben Kerr really shine in their ensemble tracks. 

In fact, the whole Matilda cast really are Miracles and this is a production you must see at once. Teaching us to be ourselves, stand together, use our imaginations and fight for what we believe in, this is the perfect anecdote to the troubles and worries we face during the current social climate. Take a trip to Crunchem Hall and experience the chocolate box of joy that Matilda provides.

Matilda is currently booking at the Cambridge Theatre, tickets are available at www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

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