Review: Matilda The Musical

Written for Fourthwall

As you walk into The Cambridge Theatre it would be easy to think you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in an aviary.  The air is thick with excited chatter as children and adults settle themselves down for an afternoon of pure theatrical gold. In this more intimate space the brightly coloured bricks that form the architecture of Rob Howell’s set cascade over the edge of the proscenium arch, crawling up the side of the auditorium with the tenacity of ivy. Crayoned scribblings on the walls hint at anarchic school kids and so long before a child even tumbles on to the stage, this production is exploding out of the theatre.

This feeling of bursting at the seams is one which typifies the exuberant Matilda The Musical. Brilliance shines out of every nook and cranny as in one fell swoop the answer to the problem of the modern musical is unleashed in glorious technicolour.

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Theatre trailers mark 2: The marketing men get their say.

The last blog I wrote on theatre trailers made me rather unpopular. So like a fool I decided to go back for more and my bravery paid off – I found out some very insightful things…Videos encourage online word of mouth and therefore group ticket buying. Perhaps most importantly they can build trust between an audience and a brand. All in all, maybe a picture really is worth more than a thousand words…

Here’s the full thing on The Guardian’s Culture Professional Network, do let me know what you think:


As You Like It @ The Roundhouse

Written for

Review: As You Like It – RSC @ Roundhouse ***

There’s something very adult about Michael Boyd’s smooth production of As You Like It, currently wooing audiences at The Roundhouse. Boyd takes Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy and turns it into a corseted lover; inside this sophisticated production there’s an exuberant play wriggling to get out.

It all looks and sounds gorgeous of course with Tom Piper’s design and Struan Leslie’s delicate choreography gracefully encasing this genteel beast. It’s a floating concept and you feel in a bubble as our characters traipse Piper’s minimalistic set, their clothes shifting from period to modern dress. This is perhaps to reflect the magic environment of the forest of Arden but it’s all terribly cerebral.

The performances are all also set squarely above the shoulders. This is a consummate company with each performer playing their role prettily, but in this firmament of well-crafted souls only a few truly shine. In a show that prizes earnestness over frivolity it is perhaps fitting that Jaques should be one such star. Forbes Masson has a stunning alto voice and a beautifully neat ankle. Masson languishes around the stage wittily and pointedly highlighting each ridiculous moment with Byronic flair but his purple eyes reveal an oddly moving anguish.

Katy Stephens’ Rosalind is vivacious and bold if a little hyper, her constantly glistening eyes betraying an anxious nerviness at odds with this light hearted romantic comedy. She and Mariah Gale play like tiger cubs and their love for each other is palpable. If Rosalind and Celia are usually sun and moon, here the pale moon shines just as brightly as it’s brash cousin with Gale turning in a complex, moving performance as the loyal sidekick.

That Boyd has given us an intelligent As You Like It cannot be denied.  But it never transfers from the head to the heart and though there are laughs to be had here, there is strangely very little joy.

Runs until 5th February 2011.