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Matilda the Musical Jr.

by on 20 December 2021

Impressive, Authentic and Magical

Matilda the Musical Jr.

by Denis Kelly, based on the story by Roald Dahl, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin

Dramacube, Twickenham Blue Cast at Hampton Hill Theatre until 20th December

Review by Eleanor Lewis

There are challenges to putting on any children’s show, but to stage a production of Matilda, with five separate casts, during a global pandemic with all the restrictions that involves and the possibility of another national lockdown at any moment, really deserves Respect with a capital R.

One of the most endearing things about Dramacube’s young actors is that they don’t make their audience nervous.  Matilda is a great show but not the easiest to do, there are some relatively sophisticated themes running through it and it takes some skill to present Tim Minchin’s outstanding lyrics as effectively as possible.  None of this is beyond Dramacube’s students: they make their exits and entrances professionally, they know their lines (and have probably been trained in what they might do if they forget them).  Their characters talk to each other, not into the air, and what they sing and speak is clearly heard.  Put simply: they know what they’re doing.

Sunday morning’s Blue Cast gave an enthusiastic, rather joyful performance.  This was a team effort – the quality of the chorus providing background in many scenes was particularly striking, several of the youngest (I think) actors giving very authentic reactions to what was going on. 

Mimi Worsley’s Matilda was a very laid back, calm and wise child who, together with Anya Malinowska as Miss Honey provided a warm, uplifting dual opposition to Daisy Langrish’s Miss Trunchball.  Daisy Langrish, clad in Miss Trunchball’s fabulous costume, including a solid, uncompromising bust was clearly ready to make any and every child’s life a living nightmare.  Also notable were Joseph Kirwan and Daisy Allen as Mr and Mrs Wormwood who made a very entertaining double act, with extra credit to Joseph Kirwan for expertly dealing with both wig and then wig-with-hat!

The atmospheric set, with a library backdrop and books scattered around forming seating places and doorways, was a simpler echo of the West End version and worked well, lit by Gary Stevenson and Lizzie Lattimore.  The skill with which the animated section of the Acrobats was handled was both impressive and quite magical. 

The sound, for a couple of actors, seemed to drop out occasionally on Sunday morning but the production moved along at such a pace that the narrative was clear anyway.

Individual singers, standing sometimes alone on stage, were confident performers, putting across both the story of the song and the meaning within it.  All of the choreographed group songs (Musical Direction and Choreography: Abbey Mordue, James Markham and Artemis Reed) were delightful to watch, from the poignancy of When I Grow Up to the joy of Revolting Children which caused quite a lot of the audience to bounce along in solidarity.

Credit must be given to everyone involved in these productions.  The young actors have achieved a great deal and the adults who train and support them and master a huge organisational challenge in these particular times, are all doing an outstanding job.  I for one, stand with these particular Revolting Children and their adults all day long!

Eleanor Lewis, December 2021

Photography by Bomi Cooper

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