RE­VIEW

South Wales Echo - - News -

THERE’S a tan­gi­ble poignancy in the air as Matilda: The Mu­si­cal opens at the WMC.

It stems from the fact that this stun­ning the­atri­cal adap­ta­tion of Roald Dahl’s much-loved book is re­born in the city of the writer’s birth as part of its first UK tour – a stone’s throw from the Nor­we­gian Church where the Cardiff-born writer was bap­tised.

Matilda Worm­wood is an ex­tra­or­di­nary lit­tle girl with a vivid imag­i­na­tion and sharp mind, whose tal­ents are con­stantly be­lit­tled by her cruel par­ents and a tyran­ni­cal head­mistress.

De­cid­ing that “some­times you’ve got to be a lit­tle bit naughty”, she dares to take a stand against them and takes her des­tiny into her own hands.

What un­folds is a mag­i­cal feast for eyes, ears and heart – and you soon re­alise why this pro­duc­tion has been called the best Bri­tish mu­si­cal of the past decade.

As you en­ter the au­di­to­rium you are im­me­di­ately taken by the im­pos­ing and elab­o­rately de­signed stage set, which sets the tone for the breath­tak­ing pro­duc­tion val­ues boasted by this show.

The en­sem­ble child cast are sim­ply won­der­ful, hugely tal­ented and end­lessly en­dear­ing – and in Scar­lett Ce­cil (as Matilda) the show has a lead whose per­for­mance is noth­ing less than awe-in­spir­ing.

In trib­ute to the vi­vac­ity of Dahl’s char­ac­ters, the an­i­mated cast take on an al­most car­toon-like qual­ity, and nowhere more so than in the vil­lains of the piece – Mr Worm­wood (Se­bastien Torkia) and Miss Trunch­bull (Craige Els).

Two of the finest larger-than-life roles ever seen on stage, their pres­ence is a riot of phys­i­cal com­edy, hy­per­ac­tive the­atrics and high camp.

Cou­pled with in­cred­i­ble chore­og­ra­phy that pushes the show to an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent di­men­sion and Tim Minchin’s won­der­fully ex­pres­sive mu­sic, there aren’t enough su­perla­tives to do this pro­duc­tion jus­tice.

In the sea­son of child­like won­der, Matilda is a show that in­spires the imag­i­na­tion and pro­vokes won­der­ment at ev­ery turn.

Roald Dahl would have very much ap­proved. David Owens

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