Love the show but this review is littered with inhuman spoilers.
Opened 25 Oct 2011
For those like me who long for fresh British musicals with original scores, Matilda is heaven sent. Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin have come up with a production which is innovative, clever and both funny and delightfully nasty, making the most of Roald Dahl’s wonderful story. The staging is something to admire, reaching out from the stage and into the auditorium, it connects the audience to the production before the show has even started. Full of vibrancy and a kaleidoscope of colour, Matilda is a wonderful feast for the senses. The actors all deliver high energy performances and are clearly relishing their roles. My heart initially sank when at the performance I attended Bertie Carvel was replaced by his understudy but I needn’t have worried. Alastair Parker as Miss Trunchbull relished the role, using his large frame and massive bosom to the max, wringing every last ounce of evil, sadistic, comic fun from the part. When Carvel moves on, Parker should top the list to replace him full time. Cleo Demetriou was our Matilda, such a massive role for one so young. She delivered a bravura performance, holding the whole show together with consummate style. Top marks too for Paul Kaye’s Mr Wormwood - a high-octane, delightful comic joy, Josie Walker’s deliciously vile Mrs Wormwood and Lauren Ward’s touching, beautifully sung Miss Honey. Indeed, the whole ensemble is excellent, creating an evening of utter pleasure. The splendid staging and acting are accompanied by a joyous score. I left the theatre humming “When I Grow Up”; always I think a sign of a good musical number. Like War Horse at the National, The RSC has found itself a massive success and a show that will boost its coffers for years to come. In Matilda, the original British musical is alive and well!
Finally got round to seeing Matilda last night - what an amazing show, a real feast for the eyes. The staging and choreography is stunning, colourful, inventive and fast paced. Every performance is excellent, with the children rightly the stars of the show with incredible performances. I left the theatre humming "When I Grow Up" and am still humming it today. A good night out :-)
This was an outstanding perfomance. Im not a big fan of musicals but this was the best i had ever seen.
i dont care for british musicals in the main, but found this amusing. i come in once a year from nyc to see some plays. found this year slim pickins' hence matilda, the physical was brillant.
Read the other critics who rated it rather more highly and this OAP agreed. I had not read the book, fortunately I also have not read your review which blew the plot and would have spoiled it. Is this the kind of critic who tells who dun it in the mouse trap perhaps?
I find some parts of this review somewhat harsh! I disagree with the lack of any songs to savour as 'The Smell of Rebellion' is an hilarious showstopper which contrasts perfectly with 'When I Grow Up' which prevents itself from becoming too oversentimental with its fair share of witty lyrics slipped in, a characteristic of many of the songs in this wonderful musical. The intricacy of this show's lyrics is what elevates it about the mediocrity of lyrics in many other productions in which the lyrics fail to live up to the magnificent orchestrations. I'm pleased to finally see a musical in which no-one steals the show too as all actors are given the moment to shine and they do with aplomb. I must admit that I did enjoy Bertie Carvel's performance the most though as it could have so easily been a ridiculous drag act but he was unnervingly menacing and you forget swiftly the gender of this character, overwhelmed by the melodious cruelty with which he executes his lines, milking them for every comical moment possible. There is a perfect balance of hilarity and pathos in this production and I have no doubt that this musical will have an extremely successful run. An extraordinary production and I must say far superior to Billy Elliot, the music of which is noticeably disappointing in contrast to its otherwise capitivating staging.
Walking through the foyers to your seats at the Cambridge Theatre is great fun as they’ve covered the walls with mini blackboards, each with a different chalked comment. When we got to our seats, in pole position in the front row of the Dress Circle, our mouthes fell open – Rob Howell’s extraordinary design spilled out from the stage onto the auditorium walls and ceiling. Sadly, when the show started the sound was so bad we were missing a good quarter of the dialogue and lyrics (the developing cacophony of crisp & sweet rusting and malteser rolling increased that to 33%). What followed was brilliantly performed and executed (well, apart from the 15 minute pause to solve a technical problem – and I’m not entirely convinced it re-started at the exact point it stopped), but I didn’t think the book, music or lyrics were really that good. Has everyone been seduced by the spectacle and the hugely talented kids? I don’t know which Matilda we had, but she was brilliant. Bertie Carvel’s Miss Trunchbull is a wonderful creation, and Paul Kaye and Josie Walker as the parents are excellent. Matthew Warchus’ staging and Peter Darling’s choreography are also superb….but at the end of the day, I really do think this is all papering over mediocre material. It’s not a ‘great British musical’ – it’s an up-market kids show and somehow I feel Roald Dahl’s story would be served better by a minimalist imaginative staging at the Young Vic or BAC where the kids could use their imagination rather than have it shoved in their faces like a video game. Of course, it’s not for me. Maybe it’s great if you’ve got a few hundred quid and a couple of kids with ADHD to amuse for a few hours……
5 stars from everyone else, come on Coveney only the hardest of hearts could not be won over by this piece! Absolutely brilliant, we have another hit British musical we can all be proud of!!
Slightly overloud and overbusy at times (no doubt to entertain the children), this is nonetheless a great musical and an even more brilliant production. Bertie Carvel, Paul Kaye and Josie Walker are some truly terrible adult caricatures in the classic Dahl mould. Carvel, in particular, is droll and nuanced, cleverly underplaying some moments to increase the shock value of others, milking moments to maximise both suspense and humour. Lauren Ward, as the one adult who is decent to Matilda, is moving, and does self-hatred down to a tee. But at today's matinee, the show was made by tiny little Eleanor Worthington Cox as Matilda, who anchors the musical in loneliness and loss, and is frequently forlorn when others on stage are frenetic. She is a sweet singer and an emotive actress, with immense stage presence, and ridiculously, is only 10. Her character, Matilda, is constantly on stage and dominates the production with an immense amount of lines, so I can't say whether with another Matilda I would still give this 5 stars. In any event, don't miss Paul Kaye's appearance (with Peter Howe) in the interval, as his anti-reading tirade of a Tim Minchin song in support of "Telly" had me in hysterics. :)
Sometimes expectations for a show are built up so high that they are impossible to live up to and I felt a bit like that for Matilda.It's undeniably exceptionally enjoyable, brilliantly performed and designed, but it didn't quite have the magic I had hoped for. At times it's close to a pantomime and it doesn't engender the fear or pity for the children that the RSC previously achieved with Nicholas Nickleby. There are also times when Tim Minchin's frenetic tunes render the lyrics unintelligible. However that's enough negatives because Matilda succeeds superbly as a family show which will be loved by children. The choreography for the kids is breathtaking for such young performers. Matthew Warchus pushes the story along at a cracking pace and one effect of a child plummeting from the ceiling is better than anything in Ghost. We saw Kerry Ingram as Matilda, who has been with the show since Stratford, and she is astonishing, like a little female Liam Mower. Her Matilda has a winning mixture of solemnity and mischief and she even has to master some fluent Russian. For a girl of this age to carry such a massive role in a major show is quite remarkable and she does it without a hint of cloying precociousness. Matilda will be a huge draw during school holidays but I have some doubts that it has a broad enough appeal to emulate the longevity of Billy Elliott or The Lion King.
Wonderfully Joyful production filled with amazing performances, fantastic score and very witty and moving dialogue.
Matilda is a reasonably good musical but not a great one, which has been over hyped in the press. Although beautifully staged and lit with a good cast it is unfortunately let down by the sound system which is over amplified and distorts the singers words during most of the songs. This is especially so during the childrens ensemble musical numbers when you can not hear the lyrics just a noise. The impressive staging is also let down by the lack of memorable music/songs but some of the lyrics are good, when you can hear them. I have to say though the young lady who played Matilda on the night we saw this, gave a 5 star performance as did Paul Kaye as the father. Bertie Carvel though as Miss Trunchbull gives a average comedy performance which has been once again been over hyped by the press and not a best actor award winning one. There have been better musical actor performances in the west end this year. In conclusion we much anticipated seeing Matilda, following the superb reviews it had at Stratford but unfortunately it does not live up to them and we regret going and would not see it again. Noticed a lot of empty seats in the theatre the night we went and there appeared to be quite a lot of friends of the cast too, so there should be plenty of reduced price tickets soon. In our opinion Betty Blue Eyes is still the best musical of 2011.
The RSC proving yet again it can be so original. This is a fantastic piece of comedic, musical theatre. Based upon Roald Dahl's story of the girl with a passion for stories this very young cast are truly amazing and compliment the talents of Bertie Carvel playing the hideous Miss Truchbull, Matilda's headmistress and Olympic shot-putter to boot(and he looks it!). And with excellent performances from the other main adult characters - Paul Kaye and Josie Walker - Matilda's appalling parents. Melanie La Barrie, the librarian enchanted by Matilda's stories and Lauren Ward, her teacher, the appropriately named Miss Honey. With excellent music and lyrics supplied by the multi-talented Tim Minchin and book by Dennis Kelly this brilliantly staged musical has to be the best of the bunch to hit the West End in 2011. If it doesn't sweep up on the awards there's no justice in this world. It looked like the audience, last night, ranged in ages from 5 to 95 and all gave it a rapturous reception and an immediate standing ovation which showed just how much everyone loved this show. It surely deserves a transfer to Broadway ... and I don't mean Wimbledon! 10/10 and no detention for at least ..... one year!