Matilda (Tour) - Musical Theatre Review

It’s finally here... After what feels like years and years of waiting, Matilda has finally wriggled it’s way to Milton Keynes. And it was most certainly worth the wait.

For those of you living under a rock, Matilda is the incredibly successful musical based on the book written by Roald Dahl. With music and lyrics from comedy musician Tim Minchin, this show has smashed records both in the West End and abroad. But for those priced out of the trip to London, the musical is finally on tour, and feeling as fresh and vibrant as ever.

The production values remain high, and although there are a few very minimal changes to the set and staging, it in no way impacts the utter delight we feel at all the trademark moments - the cake, the newt, the chalk! The level of detail in the set and costume remains fascinating - there has been no drastic paring down of anything really. This really is about as close to the West End as you can get.

The ensemble work extremely hard to create a multifaceted world for us, almost unrecognisable between character changes. There are hilarious turns from Matthew Caputo (TELLY!) and Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill make for a truly awful Mr and Mrs Wormwood. The children’s ensemble must also be commended for their energy, enthusiasm and sheer effort. (High standards all around with the children - the casting team are doing very well!) In particular, Elliott Stiff is great fun as Bruce and Daisy Sequerra has a fantastic presence onstage - definitely one to watch.

Poppy Jones is a delightfully stoic little Matilda, delivering a wildly intelligent little girl overwhelmed by the cruelty and stupidity of her parents and the terrifying villainy of Mrs Trunchball. Speaking of, what a fantastically sniffy villain. I’m sure the ultimate temptation with Trunchball is to make her incredibly shouty and cross, but under the reigns of the terrific Craige Els she is a much more disturbing villain, delivering pithy put downs with ease and filled with glee at the torturous Chokey. Indeed, Els manages to make the giant humpbacked behemoth the very model of femininity in her pleated Phys Ed skirt, twirling ribbons whilst revelling in destroying children one insult at a time. (Is it weird I want The Trunch to call me a “wet tissue”?!) Carly Thoms also makes an adorably nervy Miss Honey and her delicate touch with Jones’ Matilda makes for a tender watch.

It’s true that for a popular musical not every song is instantly memorable. Minchin’s trademark style means those with eager ears and quick of wit will get the most out of the lyrics, but that seems like a good match for Dahl. Minchin also manages to perfectly capture the grotesque qualities of children and adults that Dahl takes such great delight in describing in his work. The songs are growers though, and you can’t help but clap along with enthusiasm at ‘Revolting Children’ and get a bit grown-up emotional at ‘When I Grow Up’.

If you have been wanting to see this for years, or maybe haven’t seen it in a long time, you must, must, must get along to Milton Keynes Theatre somehow. Matilda is the ultimate family musical, with something gloriously devilish for the Smalls and tear-inducingly moving for the Grown-Ups. It will leave the indelible lesson that sometimes we all have to be a little bit naughty...

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