Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Dennis Kelly. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Dennis Kelly. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday 10 May 2019

Matilda (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Matilda (UK Tour) 
Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Thursday 9th May 2019 by Roni Hughes 

Whether you yourself were obsessed with books as a child, or if you were just more of a movie person, I can guarantee that you will know something of Matilda Wormwood. 

Originally a children’s book written by Roald Dahl and released in 1988, Matilda was later adapted into a blockbuster film starring Mara Wilson and Danny DeVito, becoming a firm favourite of young and old alike. Now the well known tale is back in a musical stage adaption by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics from Tim Minchin. Although currently on its first UK tour, the show has been a resident in London’s West End since 2011, and having had the pleasure of seeing it there multiple times, I was intrigued to see how seamlessly such a fast paced and well staged show would transfer to a smaller stage. For many parents unable to travel to London, this is their opportunity to take children to the show for the first time, and it’s impossible not to get swept up in the excitement upon arriving at the theatre.

Right from the off, it’s clear that the transfer has taken nothing away from the production value. Even on a smaller stage, the intricacies of the sets to include many books and building block letters are still mind blowing. There is so much to look at, yet none of it distracts from the main action. A special shout out must go to the cleverly written and performed School Song, in which the older children of Trunchem Hall teach the new starters their ABC’s through the menacing school gates. Hats off to Matt Towell and Ben Davies for continuing to make this as dynamic and tricky as it should be.

Outside of the staging, there are a few standout members of the cast without whom the show would fall flat. Our Matilda for the night, Olivia Juno Cleverley, has the little girl’s feisty nature down to a T. She has to ability to have us laughing along with her karate chopping one minute, and the next be tugging on our heart strings in softer moments where we’re confronted with just how awfully the adults in her life treat Matilda. At her young age, this is no mean feat, and I’m sure there are bright things to come for her. Special mention also to Charlie Garton who played cake loving Bruce Bogtrotter. His fabulous dance moves in Revolting Children have the audience rolling in the aisles, and he has energy and stage presence in spades.

This is not forgetting the adult cast members, who do well in being the literal embodiment of their characters. Carly Thoms’ Miss Honey is perfectly meek and mild, and her rendition of My House is suitably gut-wrenching. It’s a refreshing change to have one adult in Matilda’s story for whom you root just as much as title character, and Thoms allows us to sympathise completely with this teacher with a heart of gold. 

We also cannot overlook Elliot Harper, who plays the formidable Agatha Trunchbull. Harper succeeds brilliantly in providing us with the laughs throughout the entire show, right down to one final cry of ‘Maggots!’ during the last reprise. He is the fourth Trunchbull I’ve been able to watch, and he certainly does not disappoint.

One thing I must mention that took away slightly from the overall production was the sound mixing. I’m unsure on whether it was simply down to the mics or the theatre layout, but the music seemed to overpower the actors, and particularly in chorus songs, the clarity needed to hear all the lyrics was missing. The show in general was not quite as polished as you would expect for a show that’s been on tour for 14 months already, which was most obvious in some of the dance sequences. However, despite this the show was still more than enjoyable, and this may just be down to adjusting to the recent move to the Hippodrome.

This show is wonderful for children from ages 4-104 and would certainly make for a fantastic family night out. There are plenty of age appropriate gags for all generations, and there’s a great balance of poignant moments mixed with fun and hilarity. I would definitely recommend being a little bit ‘naughty’ and treating yourself to a ticket!

Matilda runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 8th June before continuing its tour.

photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Friday 20 September 2019

Matilda the Musical, Cambridge Theatre | Review

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