Mean grownups, unloved children and the wish for a happy ever after. The school bell is ringing for a spectacular musical at Sunderland Empire...


Bookish Matilda lives with parents who love their TV more than they love her and goes to a school that’s more like a jail. But she escapes to an extraordinary imagination and lets her special powers take over. She has a charming capacity for vengeful naughtiness, taking on the awful grown-ups – and in the end she wins.


A brilliant cast with spiky little Matilda at its heart. In this instance (there’s a revolving child cast), she is played by Annalise Bradbury who is amazing: full of spite, punch and wicked when it’s needed with a side of vulnerability, oh, and with a flourish of great on-stage maths and Russian. The young cast are all on-point when it comes to some tricky choreography (on swings!) but special mention to little Lavender played by Isobelle Chalmers who has knock-out comic timing.

When it comes to grown-ups, the fearsome Agatha Trunchbull is as good a Roald Dahl baddie as you’re going to get and playing her, Craige Els is superb and so funny in some highlight scenes – particularly The Hammer.

As the slippy conman father who insists Matilda is a boy (“I’m a girl”, she angrily retorts throughout), Sebastien Torkia plays a hapless Mr Wormwood for big laughs and as his wife, Rebecca Thornhill is screamingly good as the ballroom dancing diva. The kind and lovely Miss Honey is played by Carly Thomas with a voice to match her name.


Roald Dahl is the master storyteller. The RSC does theatre like no one else. Tim Minchin on music and lyrics. There’s a reason why this show has grabbed armfuls of awards. The naughty kids triumph in a story that has themes that strike at adults and children. Mean, selfish grownups, unloved children and the wish for a happy ever after.

The story hits the spot but there’s an extraordinary energy on stage with such a pace – from the cast of course but also from the vigour of live musicians who add much to the atmosphere. The set is vibrant and a character all its own. The children are incredible in their choreographed pieces, deftly using swings, desks and gym kit as part of their gasp-worthy and tight routines – making it all look so easy.


The kids, the mums, the dads. Loads of fun. Fast-paced, laugh-out-loud gags, burp jokes and newts in pants; everything a night out should involve. Top songs like When I Grow Up and The Smell of Rebellion A superb show. Go see.


Now, until 2 June 2018.

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