Monday, 26 May 2014

Matilda the Musical: Review

I saw Matilda the Musical on Sunday for the second time. This was the first time I have ever seen a production twice, and I am already contemplating booking a ticket to see it for a third time. Is that bad?

No. No it most certainly is not. Matilda the Musical is one of the most recent productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company to transfer to the West End, having called the Cambridge Theatre home now since October 2011. It lays claim to 7 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, Best Director, Best Set Design and Best Actress.

Well, I say Best Actress; but in reality the award was shared between the four marvelous young girls who play the titular role of Matilda. The Matilda who I saw this time around was Cara Jenkins who had an absolutely astonishing voice. I've never really been jealous of an eight year old girl before, but if there was to be a first I am glad it was her. She was not, however, the only brilliant young cast member, as Matilda's young classmates proved exceptional from the very first song to their hilarious rendition of Revoltin' Children at the end, led by the immensely funny Bruce, played by George King.

The adult cast members featured Haley Flaherty as Miss Honey, whose astonishing voice had even improved from the first to the second performance, the excellent James Clyde as Mr Wormwood, and the undeniably hilarious Alex Gaumond, playing Miss Trunchball. Whilst these three are arguable the most important of the adult leads, I remained blown away by the incredulous voice of Tommy Sherlock, who unfortunately only had one song.

A rapturous hand also has to go to Matthew Warchus (Director), Laurie Perkins (Musical Director) and Peter Darling (Choreographer) for their fantastic work in putting on such an excellent production. This, however, would not have been possible without the superb book, written by Dennis Kelly, and lyrics by Tim Michin. I couldn't imagine anyone but Michin rhyming Miracle with Umbilical in the very first song but he does and it is splendid!

I think the thing which I love most about Matilda is that it is an immense amount of fun, not just for the audience but also for the superb company who put it on night after night. I've never stood to applaud the company on their bows but I did that afternoon. I stood and cheered and possibly even sang along to all of the songs. If you do one thing over the next few weeks, make sure it is buying a Matilda ticket. It is, I can assure you, the best investment you will make. In the words of Matilda, "Never let a little thing like little stop you."


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Living Together: Review

2014 is a very special year for the playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn as he celebrates his 75th birthday and 50 years of his plays being stage in the West End. To celebrate, seasoned directed Jon McNamara from the Moot House Players presented this evening (08/05/14) a performance of his play ‘Living Together’, which follows the story of three married couples and how they intertwine over a night spent at one couples home, particularly the promiscuous Norman.

The technical crew of the show had put together a simple, but effective, set which clearly signified where and when the action took place. The fact that the props and set were assembled and put together largely by members of the cast highlights the strength of the Moot House Players in working together, with everyone getting involved not just on stage but behind the scenes as well.

The cast was largely made up of seasoned Moot House Players, however there was one debutant in the form of Ruth Lewis, who played the role of Annie. Considering this was her first time on the stage she showed some very good confidence and her projection was spot on and I look forward to seeing her in more productions to come.

A special mention must also follow for three other particular cast members. Michael Rees’ comic timing was superb in helping some of the play go down very well with the audience, and he portrayed the character of Reg with individuality which made, for me, his the most interesting character.

Geoff Leeds played the role of the socially awkward and slightly hopeless Tom excellently. It was good to see particular body movements and vocal qualities repeated as he had obviously explored his character in some detail.

In my opinion, however, the best actor of the night was Rosalind Barron, who played the role of Ruth. Unfortunately, she did not appear until the second act but once she was on she dominated the stage.

This show was the first of a three night run and it was not without its hiccups, however speaking to the cast afterwards they acknowledged this and sought to eradicate them for the next two nights. I will admit that I did find the first act fairly slow paced, and I was a little bit frustrated by the amount of promptings which the actors required, as I’m sure they were themselves.

I have seen productions recently which I have enjoyed more, but similarly ones which I have disliked more so. I believe that if the issues which the cast are aware of are ironed out and the performance becomes quicker, more confident and committed to ensuring that the audience is going to have a good time then it could be a very good show which I would still recommend seeing over the next two days.


Living Together is running at Moot Hall from 8-10 of May. Tickets cost £8 and are available on 01279 639170.