Skip to main content

Matilda the Musical

The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Four stars

Roald Dahl adored revolting children. The double-edged sword of that phrase has probably helped Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s musical version of Dahl’s 1988 novel become such a global hit over the last eight years. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s UK tour of Matthew Warchus’ original production chimes too with recent real-life classroom uprisings throughout the land. So when a stage full of schoolboys and girls flunk their spelling bee to show solidarity with their classmate about to be tortured by the despotic Miss Trunchbull, it’s a moment worthy of Spartacus.

By this point, child genius Matilda has transcended her background born to the vulgarian Wormwood clan to find salvation in books, from Dickens to Dostoyevsky, as well as carving out her own story as she discovers the power of her imagination. Finding a kindred spirit and protector in her saintly teacher Miss Honey, this little rebel becomes the quiet but subversive catalyst for change, not least through her hitherto undiscovered telekinetic tendencies.

All this is brought to life through a refreshingly down-to-earth mix of Kelly’s words and Minchin’s cabaret-style showtunes, which we hear through the mouths of an astonishingly well-drilled cast led by the nine child performers onstage, who make up one of four teams on a rota. Together with the grown-ups, they leap their way through Peter Darling’s dance routines on Rob Howell’s Scrabble board of a set.

Matilda’s elders are either scary grotesques like Elliot Harper’s Miss Trunchbull, or are candidates for Childline like the Wormwoods, played with cartoon-like relish by Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill. So well do they satirise lowest common denominator ignorance spiv-like couple could have leapt straight from the pages of Viz comic. Only Carly Thoms’ Miss Honey radiates the light of a moral compass.

Carrying the show on Thursday night, however, was Scarlett Cecil as Matilda, who, onstage pretty much throughout, never flagged once in a show of strength and chutzpah that matched her character. As intellect and goodness triumphed over stupidity and greed, Matilda gave us hope that the geek may yet inherit the earth.

The Herald, April 5th 2019


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug