Off to the Cambridge to for a final theatre visit of 2011 and a chance to finally catch up with the RSC's acclaimed musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda.
Aided by Tim Minchin's brilliant songs and Dennis' unsentimental script the production is everything a West End musical should be. Funny, warm, witty, dynamic and most importantly full of wisdom and moral certainty. It's a rectifying tonic against the dumbed down juke box nostalgia that seems to have flooded London in the last decade or so.
The young cast relish the world that's been created for them. A wonderful playground of a set that turns the iron gates of Cruncham Hall into a climbing frame the bookshelves of the library into a never ending kingdom of mystery and exploration.
There are great performances throughout - including some of the best child acting I've ever seen. Paul Kaye is excellent as Matilda's money grabbing father Mr Wormwood, twisting his languid body and outrageous quiff in serpent like challenge to the upstanding brilliance of his well read daughter whilst Lauren Ward is perfect as the goddess of effective nurture Miss Honey.
It's Bertie Carvell's terrifying portrayal of that hideous, child hating, Miss Trunchbull that really steals the show, however. Our first encounter of her is at her desk where she sits facing a subversion proof bank of CCTV screens, choosing which 'maggot' to victimise next. Her hammer throwers shoulders hunched high as she looks for any threat to her pristine machine run world. Later her malevolent sadism is given full throttle when she stretches ears, launches unsuspecting pupils into space and tortuously forces young Bogtrotter to finish every crumb of an enormous chocolate cake.
There are always forces of evil to overcome in Dahl's stories and the joy for children is in seeing the perpetrators of misery crash and burn and so it is here when the revolution breaks out the whole audience unites to send the monstrous headmistress into unforgiving exile.
Demons banished and Schools out. Everybody headed home animated and laughing, grateful perhaps that no Wormwoods' or Trunchbulls' are around to ruin their Christmas.