The children are
revolting remarkable! Truly.
Roald Dahl's story of the girl, unloved and misunderstood by her family, who lives through books and stories and fights injustice by being "a little bit naughty" was first brought to the stage by the RSC in 2010 and has been a firm favourite every since. Being of the age I am, my childhood reading was more middle class and happy ending - A A Milne and the like - those who were lucky enough to grow up with Dahl, then later Morpurgo and Walliams, have a more "balanced" and interesting view of real life! Although the origins of children's stories are often quite brutal, those versions were, in my day, kept in the adult section of the library!
A lot of the story is, needless to say, carried by the young actors - and they do it extraordinarily well. The amount of words, songs and choreogrphy that they manage to pack in, without any obvious slips, is amazing - disciplined, accyrate and yet smooth. The adults, ofrtunately, are not left behind and produce a range of perfectly pitched performances from the ridiculous Wormwoods (Rebecca Thornhill, Sebastian Torkia and Matthew Caputo) to Rudolpho (Matt Gillett) and Miss Honey (Carly Thoms). The centre of the stage, though, at least for teh adult actors, is reserved for Miss Trunchbull (boo hiss) played magnificently, and malevolently, by Elliot Harper.
The production's pace is kept pretty full-on but with some nice, quiet moments to let us get our breath back, and the effects, where required, are not overplayed - in fact the entire thing is excellently pitched to appeal to the wide range of audience that are drawn in. The set is fabulous and flexible, moving us around the story without fuss. I did find that I lost some of the words, perhaps through mis-balancing of the sound, but in the end I didn't find it dented my enthusiasm for the production.
An excellent night out, not just for kids either - the standing ovation was well deserved and seeing the young actress playing Matilda (Olivia Cleverley on the night we saw) taking the stage alone for a bow - when she had commanded the stage so well, was actually quite moving. The kids are, most definitely, alright!