MATILDA: Novel by Roald Dahl, Adapted by Dennis Kelly (Book), Tim Minghin (Lyrics and Music)
RSC, Courtyard, Stratford upon Avon
Runs: 2h 40m, one interval, till 30 January 2011
Review: Rod Dungate, 14 12 10
This will be the best present you’ll get this Christmas.
This is as splendid as it is special and as exciting as it is invigorating. It’s one of the rare occasions when a director understands how superbly youngsters can perform; when what’s most important is the play and no compromises are made.
There are a whole pile of young people in MATILDA and I suppose they’re cute – but who cares about that? They are great performers. There is a thrilling sense in the production of adults and children performing as equal partners. It’s magic.
In addition Matthew Warchus and his team have captured the cartoonery and grotesquery of the book; Dahl’s novel looks to have leapt into the acting space. Characters are broadly drawn, particularly the nasty ones. Actors skilfully root it all in reality but pull no punches around their wickedness. And therefrom grows Dahl’s dynamite gift – childlike humour. It’s deliciously Jonsonian.
Much is owed to Dennis Kelly’s skilled adaptation – and to Tim Minchin’s music and witty lyrics which are another constant source of joy. Peter Darling’s strong, punchy choreography is much to be admired too.
Kerry Ingram played Matilda the night I saw it – giving an astoundingly accomplished performance. Mathilda stands outside the story’s madness, in a way; Ingram captures perfectly Mathilda’s earnestness and stoicism – ‘Just because you find life isn’t fair / It doesn’t mean you’ve got to grin and bear it’ she sings to us.
This is a strong ensemble show. Among the team Lauren Ward brings great warmth and humanity as Miss Honey; Bertie Carvel’s creation of headmistress Miss Trunchbull is a work of great comedic genius. Who’d have thought those aspirated WHs could sound so threatening?!
Doctor: Michael Rouse
Mrs Wormwood: Josie Walker
Mr Wormwood: Paul Kaye
Michael Wormwood: Peter Howe
Mrs Phelps: Melanie La Barrie
Escapologist: Matthew Malthouse
Acrobat: Emily Shaw
Miss Honey: Lauren Ward
Miss Trunchbull: Bertie Carvel
Rudolpho: Michael Rouse
Cook: Verity Bentham
Sergei: Alastair Parker
Henchmen: Marc Antololin, Mick Serle
Swings: Emily-Jane Boyle, Michael Kent
Matilda: Adrianna Bertola / Josie Griffiths / Kerry Ingram
Lavender: Ruby Bridle / Rebecca Stoll / Misty May Tindall
Bruce: Jake Bailey / James Beesley / Kuan Frye
Amanda: Jadie-Rose Hobson / Katie Lee / Lara Weaver
Nigel: Arthur Byrne / Jake Pratt / Adam Scotland
Eric: Jack Christou / Toby Murray / Shivum Gupta
Alice: Jessica Daugirda / Ellis Simons / Annabel Parsons
Nortensia: Jessica Adair / Daisy Brophy / Shyanne Sanders
Reginald: Elliot Allinson / Thomas McGarrity / Robert Madge
Tommy: Charlie Callaghan / Callum Henderson / Denzil Sampson
Directed by: Matthew Warchus
Designed by: Rob Howell
Choreographed by: Peter Darling
Musical Supervision and Orchestration by: PChristopher Nightingale
Lighting Designed by: Hugh Vanstone
Sound Designed by: Simon Baker
Illusions by: Paul Kieve
Music Director: Bruce O’Neil