Few modern musicals have enjoyed greater success than Matilda. Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics, Marcus Warchus’s direction and Dennis Kelly’s book have combined to create a musical that can only be described as a  theatrical triumph.

Based on Roald Dahl’s most loved children’s book Matilda, it tells the story of a little girl with a brilliant mind, her uncaring parents, her kindly teacher Miss Honey and the formidable headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.

It’s a powerful show that is simultaneously poignant, funny and moving. Spectacularly and seamlessly staged,  Rob Howell’s set creates pure magic with his ingenious framework of coloured alphabet blocks, swings, slides and brightly coloured sets that effortlessly become sinister the moment we enter Crouchham Hall Academy.

It’s a fast moving show full of wonderful characterizations by its ensemble that includes a well-drilled team of children playing Matilda’s school friends combined with grown-ups in shorts that add to the physicality and incredible power of numbers such as ‘Revolting Children’, ‘School Song’ and ‘When I Grow Up’








Matilda is played on an alternating basis by four young actors and it was Nicola Turner who played the role at the performance reviewed. She played Matilda with genuine conviction, vulnerability and strength and was effortlessly powerful in her vocals.

Elliott Harper’s Miss Trunchball was a gem of characterization in every way and  reminded me, at times, of the head at my boarding school! He was menacing but not frightening dispensing just the right amount of comedic skills to the role and handles to physical comedy side of the role to perfection.

As Miss Honey,Carly Thomas,  captured some beautiful moments of pathos finally revealing the tragedy of her early life with such controlled but believable sadness.

Matilda’s parents are played as pure comic caricatures who are totally unaware of their awful parenting skills. I loved Rebecca Thornhill’s “Looks are more important than books” ballroom dancing obsessed ditzy mother the perfect foil to Sebastian Torkia’s 50’s  style spiv car salesman.

Matilda tells a dark story but makes the subject enjoyable. Adults will find it strangely nostalgic whilst the kids will love its irascible magic.

Runs till 23rd March at The Alhambra Bradford and is the only Yorkshire venue for this show.

Liz Coggins is a member of the Critics Circle





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