Review: Matilda the Musical at Bristol Hippodrome

May 11 2019
Review: Matilda the Musical at Bristol Hippodrome

Dennis Kelly's musical adaption of Roald Dahl's Matilda has received rave reviews, so when it was announced that the production was coming to Bristol's Hippodrome, South Bristol Voice's Ruth Drury couldn't wait to get a (chocolatey!) slice of the action ...

Just two nights into the Bristol part of the Matilda the Musical tour and the audience was bustling with excitement. All around, I could hear people discussing all manner of topic: the scary bits, Miss Trunchbull, the child actors and their stamina, and would it be as good as the book?

But the audience need not have worried.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda the Musical was a fantastic stage show with sadness, cheer, nastiness, and chocolatey goodness. Each and every actor truly put on a show and the standing ovation at the end was well deserved.

Elliot Harper as Miss Trunchbull in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical
Elliot Harper as Miss Trunchbull

The songs – brilliantly written by Tim Minchin – were sung beautifully and choreographed to perfection without distracting from the clever sets or the story itself. 'When I grow up' was my favourite, with my heart leaping as the older cast members swung out over the audience. It was memorable and a perfect addition to the narrative.

A couple of strange twists were included – Russian mafia, acrobats, escapologists and ballroom dancing but these didn't detract from the story we all grew up knowing and loving.

Matilda – played by Olivia Cleverley – was wonderful, just the right amount of sass and courage, encouraging us to believe that, while standing up for your beliefs and taking control of your destiny, 'sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty'. Her school chums were a riot of fun and laughter with particular mention to Bruce (Charlie Garton) for his wonderful chocolate cake scene, Lavender (Lily Van Veen) for the adorable love for Matilda and Hortensia for her fabulous plaits which stood up to Miss Trunchbull’s hammer throwing ability.

Miss Trunchbull was played by Elliot Harper to perfection, from start to finish. His stature, costume and acting talents all worked seamlessly together to produce a marvellous Pam Ferris equivalent. I found his portrayal to be much less hateful than the original for which I was grateful, having always feared the original actress. 

Mr and Mrs Wormwood (Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill) were comical with occasional disturbingly threatening moments from Mr Wormwood, but his regular referral to Matilda as a boy softened the image with some nice comedy.

In summary, go to see Matilda. It is not recommended for under 6s, and I agree, but it was a fun and fabulous night out, worthy of its ticket prices. 

Matilda the Musical is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, June 8. 

Photos by Manuel Harlan