REVIEW: Matilda, Sunderland Empire, until June 2

Matilda The Musical is running at the Sunderland Empire until June 2
Matilda The Musical is running at the Sunderland Empire until June 2

All good things come to those who wait...

It had been more than a year since it was announced that Matilda The Musical was coming to Sunderland Empire. It has been a long time coming for those staring at the calendar wishing for the day it would arrive.

Matilda is cruelly treated by her parents who don't share her love of reading.

Matilda is cruelly treated by her parents who don't share her love of reading.

Now it is here and it's fair to say Matilda mania has gripped the Sunderland Empire given the buzz around the theatre ahead of the performance.

Roald Dahl's book - telling the story of Matilda Wormwood, the five-year-old girl with an amazing intelligence and imagination, neglected by uncaring parents but who forms a bond with her teacher Miss Honey and uses her special powers to help her teacher after learning of the awful family past she too has suffered at the hands of her aunt, the wicked school head Agatha Trunchbull - has been a favourite read for children and even grown-ups for the last 30 years.

And it is brilliantly brought to life in this Royal Shakespeare Company production.

The children in the lead roles - which are rotated - deliver energetic, vibrant performances throughout, while Rebecca Thornhill and Sebastien Torkia are classic comic baddies as Matilda's parents, more interested in dancing and selling second-hand cars than encouraging their amazing daughter.

Matilda's teacher Miss Honey suffers at the hands of her aunt and wicked headteacher Miss Trunchbull

Matilda's teacher Miss Honey suffers at the hands of her aunt and wicked headteacher Miss Trunchbull

Stars of the show though are Carly Thoms, as sweet as her character Miss Honey, and Craige Els who is fearful as the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull and full of loathing for the pupils she calls 'maggots'. Thankfully, Matilda has a special gift that helps Miss Honey get back what is rightfully hers that has been kept from her by her awful aunt. Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty, but that's ok.

The songs are fantastic and the set is amazing. You'll be glad you never went to a school like Crunchem Hall or had to spend time in 'chokey' for falling foul of your headteacher!

It's no surprise that tickets have sold so well for this show. It lasts for over two and a half hours and deserves all of the applause and cheers that rain down on the cast at its finish.

It's the kind of top-level production that gives the Empire its deserved reputation as the 'The West End of the North East'.

Make sure you see Matilda while it's on in Sunderland. It would be naughty not to!

* For ticket details, visit http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/sunderland-empire/

ISOBEL OLIVER