It’s good. Honest. And this comes from moi, a non-musical lover (putting the likes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show aside). The production relives the tale of a special little girl with the heart of gold, who rights the wrongs at a tyrant-run school and liberates its besieged teacher, Miss Honey, from the clutches of her evil aunt, all through song and dance. Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with music and lyrics by comedian Tim Minchin, it’s a polished production that still manages to feel fresh. The clever set design (by Rob Howell) features words and letters and makes for a good eye-spy game while kids wait for curtain-up.
The two girls in our group (aged 8-9) were transfixed, edge-of-the-seat fashion, while the two boys (both 7) proved to be a far more challenging audience: one is mostly mesmerised, while the other is a little terrified of Miss Trunchbull (played by the excellent Craige Els in drag), the villain of the piece. My son, it appears, takes after me and during a slow point in the production leans over and says, “Why does Ms Honey have to sing?” I have to stifle a laugh, and reason with (bribe) him to stay quiet with the promise of an interval ice cream. Still, one slow point in a sea of songs doesn’t spoil it for either of us; we all rejoice as Matilda serves Miss Trunchbull her just desserts. Even for those usually shy of musicals, we’d recommend it.
Published in the Summer 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller Family (UK)