The Whingers were brought up on a diet of Enid Blyton and The Water Babies so there were mixed feelings about trailing all the way to Stratford Upon Avon to see the RSC’s new musical Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl story. So mixed, in fact, that Phil ended up not going.
Which was a great shame because it would have turned out to be well worth the perilous prospect of his enduring two hour car journey into the Midlands with Andrew at the wheel.
For it transpires that if you put comedian/musician Tim Minchin in charge of the words and lyrics, get Rob Howell to design it, put Matthew Warchus at the helm you get something quite remarkable.
Especially if you put WEW-fave Bertie Carvel (Rupert Cadell in Rope at the Almeida) in a gym skirt and take away his neck. His turn as the wicked, hammer-throwing headmistress Miss Trunchbull (With just a touch of a Alastair Sim’s Miss-Fritton-gone-bad in the gestures) is a joy to behold.
Another WEW fave Josie Walker (Side By Side By Sondheim, Corrie!) turns up as Matilda’s vulgar mother has terrific fun in a bad wig.
The songs – as you would hope from Mr Minchin – are tuneful, memorable, witty and intelligent. There are tricks from Paul Kieve, vaulting over a gym horse and the consumption of a giant chocolate cake on stage. The choreography by Peter Darling is delightful.
And then, and then, there are the children. Usually this is where it all falls apart for the Whingers. But they were astonishingly good. Whichever one of the three Matildas Andrew saw, she was extraordinary. Indeed they were all quite, quite remarkable.
Running out of adjectives that basically mean “very good” so will stop now. Except to say.
Amazing stuff. Roll on the transfer. Roll on the cast recording.