Maggots -it’s an excellent word at the best of times, always proving the onset to a skin crawling cringe.
But when uttered by the formidable, fascist, ex-Olympic hammer throwing Headmistress Miss Truchbull, played by Elliot Harper it is just the most wonderful insult imaginable.
The Royal Shakespeare Company have brought the organised chaos that is their hit musical Matilda to the Edinburgh Playhouse, and with a cast mainly made up of children its perhaps little wonder that the performance is packed with energy and hilarity.
Roald Dahl’s colourful characters come alive on stage aided by the songs of Aussie comedian and pianist Tim Minchin, whose lyrics are as clever as they are hilarious.
Directed by Matthew Warchus, the show’s set and costume designer Rob Howell has created a fabulous scrabble board style set, giving the opportunity to partake in a word search while munching ice cream between acts.
The protagonist is, on Thursday night, played by Scarlett Cecil, whose performance is passionate, believable and confident beyond her years. It’s hard to get past the talented child cast, but such is the technicolour vulgarity of Matilda’s family, the vapid Wormwoods, that they are still able to shine.
Matilda’s father is a stereotypically crooked, teddy-boy, second-hand car salesman and her mother a dim-witted, vanity-fuelled dancer, whose hilarious, Lycra-clad, Latin-dance partner was a big favourite in our camp.
One of the very few grown-up characters with even a shred of decency is the mousey and good-hearted Miss Honey (played by the pitch perfect Carly Thoms), Matilda’s teacher who fights the girl’s corner despite living with her own demons.
The plot allows Matilda to eventually transcend the horror of her upbringing, using a combination of her imagination, a love of books, telekinetic powers and a strong moral compass to rise up against the cruelty, ignorant and inexcusably dishonest adults that surround her, both at home and at school.
The children in the audience clearly feel an affinity with those on the stage and despite the lengthy performance (2 hours and 40 minutes) and the late hour, continue to show their appreciation right up until the well-deserved standing ovation.
Matilda the Musical is at The Edinburgh Playhouse until 27 April .
Click HERE for ticket details.