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Standing Ovation for Matilda at The Talisman

Matilda - packed full of energy. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

Matilda JR. The Musical at the Talisman Theatre and Arts Centre, Wednesday 13 March - Saturday 16 March 2024

Review by Ashley Hayward


The Talisman Youth Theatre certainly provided an exhilarating and energetic evening’s entertainment in this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much loved book.

Matilda (delightfully played by Sophie Burton) is a very clever but lonely little girl who is sent away to a school called Crunchem Hall which certainly does not place the pastoral care of its pupils as its main priority!

The cast of Matilda. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

Under the leadership of the formidable and totally unreasonable Head Mistress, Agatha Trunchbull, the school believes in strict discipline and breaking the spirit of the pupils.

Typical of the punishments meted out at the school are the boy who was forced to consume an entire giant chocolate cake and the girl who was thrown across the room by her hair as Miss Trunchbull tried to resurrect her career as a champion hammer thrower!

There are excellent performances from the entire cast including the appropriately named ‘big kids’ and ‘little kids’ that made up the chorus. ll the actors that play adult parts give very impressive, mature and authentic performances.

Natasha Hall as Miss Trunchbull. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

Natasha Hall plays the Head frighteningly well whilst Will Sale and Alais McClusey perform the Wormwoods, Matilda’s gloriously obnoxious parents, with considerable gusto. Amy Jolliffe is totally believable as the warm hearted and kindly teacher Miss Honey who takes a special interest in Matilda and is very sympathetic to her plight.

The intelligent and book loving Matilda certainly has a strong sense of social justice but is trapped by abusive parents and a sadistic and bullying Head. Fortunately, she discovers she has superpowers which could possibly be used to get rid of the horrible Miss Trunchbull and help the lovely Miss Honey to reclaim her life.

Sophie Burton as Matilda. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

Tim Minchin provides the wonderful catchy music with some hilarious lyrics that are performed tunefully and with gusto by the multi-talented cast.

The production is extremely well directed with imaginative and entertaining choreography and slick scene changes.

I understand that the show is a sell out and I’m sure that if another couple of performances were arranged they would sell out too. The production will live long in the memory of both the performers and their proud families among the audience that gave the standing ovation at the end.

Great performances by all the cast. Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

The cast must surely be absolutely exhausted by the time they have completed the fifth performance on Saturday. If any of them are turning up at school with bleary eyes or unable to have had time to do their homework, I can only hope for their sakes that the schools around Kenilworth have far more liberal regimes than Crunchem Hall!

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