Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical
Stars: Alisha Weir, Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough
This big screen take on the hit stage musical, adapted by the show’s director Matthew Warchus, is a rousing, occasionally stirring experience. Excellent newcomer Alisha Weir is the gifted six-year-old child, neglected by her obnoxious nouveau riche parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood (Graham and Riseborough, clearly relishing the chance to cut loose) who can’t even be bothered to take her to school. So Matilda is left alone with only library books for company. Then kindly teacher Ms Honey (Lynch) intervenes and Matilda is allowed to attend the Crunchem Hall school ran by Miss Trunchbull (Thompson), a bitter bullying dictator and former Olympic shot-putter. As she grows acclimatized to school life, Matilda helps her fellow bullied pupils stand up to the fearsome head. This being Dahl, the story is a little bit naughty in its embracing of certain stereotypes and in its depiction of adult-on-child violence, but it also sports a positive message of diversity and cooperation. Tim Minchin’s excellent songs are catchy and often stirring, in particular the supremely bittersweet showstopper ‘When I Grow Up’. Warchus maintains a jaunty pace throughout and the colourful production design, most notably the Wormwood’s nightmarishly gaudy pastel-hued house, is tip-top.