Tag Archives: Elliot Harper

REVIEW: Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical – Edinburgh Playhouse

With its origins as the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2010 festive show, nine years down the line, Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda has been seen by over eight million people around the globe. Winning awards and smashing box office records wherever it goes (and deservedly so) the transformation of a much-adored but thematically and emotionally challenging children’s book was never going to be easy, taking its creators seven years to develop from page to stage – but boy was it worth it.

There are few other musicals, let alone one largely written for a child audience, that is a genuine emotional rollercoaster, laugh-out-loud funny and entirely entertaining from curtain up to curtain down for an audience of all ages. Never shying away from the darker corners of human nature, it re-iterates throughout that despite this one having one, not all stories have a happy ending. An unexpected and unwelcome addition to the grotesque Wormwood family, five-and-a-half-year-old prodigy with telekinetic powers Matilda (Scarlett Cecil), takes solace in books – from Austen and Brontë to Dickens and Dostoyevsky and finds a kindred spirit in her gentle and downtrodden new teacher Miss Honey. While she relishes starting school, the cruelty she seeks to escape at home is heaped upon her and her classmates ten-fold by their larger than life, ex-Olympic hammer throwing head mistress Miss Trunchbull (played to utter perfection and with great relish by Elliot Harper).

With a two-hour 40-minute running time, jam packed with dialogue, tricky lyrics and hugely inventive choreography and scene changes, Matilda’s success relies in no small part to a well-drilled cast, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better quality one than this. Scarlett Cecil, one of four Matildas is an absolute star, it must be remembered that this is a child taking on this role, a child who rarely leaves the stage during the entire production, a child who is delivering complex dialogue and lyrics that those treble her age would find challenging. The entire child cast are exceptional (the adults are pretty spectacular too) not a foot or word is out of place and the energy and gusto with which they attack every scene adds a youthful realism.

Both Kelly’s words (perfectly adapted from Roald Dahl’s original book) and Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics are clever, clever, clever and prove that there’s no need to dumb down to provide entertainment with mass appeal. As perfect as it’s possible to be, Matilda remains an outstanding musical in the British theatrical canon.

Runs until 27 April 2019 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for THE REVIEWS HUB

REVIEW: One Man Two Guv’nors – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Review originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com

It is testament to the writing skills of Richard Bean and the supreme talent of the energetic and committed cast that an obscure 18th Century Commedia dell’Arte farce has a packed audience of 21st Century Glaswegians rolling in the aisles. Bean’s One Man, Two Guv’nors has been appearing throughout the country to almost universal acclaim almost perpetually since its smash hit arrival in 2011 at the National Theatre and on this, its third national tour it has lost none of its ability to raise a laugh.

It’s 1963, Brighton, and Francis Henshall a man always on the lookout for an opportunity, has managed to secure himself two jobs with two different guv’nors. One, Roscoe Crabbe is a local gangster of formidable reputation, the other, Stanley Stubbers, a posh twit of a petty criminal. Francis does his level best to keep the two from learning of the others existence. But, to complicate matters, Roscoe is actually twin sister Rachel in disguise, Roscoe having been ‘accidentally’ murdered by Rachel’s love Stanley Stubbers. Thrown into the mix are the Clenches; Charlie, who owes Roscoe money and his daughter Pauline, previously betrothed to Roscoe to hide his homosexuality, but who is now set to marry would-be actor Alan Dangle, book-keeper Dolly and a host of other misfits.

The success of the piece depends on two factors, the writing and the cast, and in both cases they are top-notch. The rapid-fire dialogue and the break-neck speed physical comedy are delivered with aplomb by the talented ensemble cast, and this is the perfect example of a true ensemble cast: whilst much of the action lies heavy on the shoulders of a few principal actors, this is a piece where everyone has their moment to shine.

Gavin Spokes is an amiable and energetic Francis who gets the crowd on his side from the off and Alicia Davies a spot-on Roscoe/Rachel. Edward Hancock is an hysterical Alan (previously Orlando) Dangle; the reason for the change of name explained by the fact that angry young men of the 60’s are not called Orlando, his over the top luvvi-ness as the would be thesp is met with peals of laughter at every entry. The rest of the cast too, are pitch-perfect. The whole piece is punctuated before, during and after by skiffle band The Craze who deliver period atmosphere with first rate musicianship and bags of charm.

It’s good to see that a piece of such quality is still packing them in and has lost none of its sparkle. Do yourself a favour and get a dose of theatrical Prozac at the King’s Theatre until Saturday.


Runs until Sat 5 July 2014 then touring

REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

“Business is so bad at his Skid Row Florists that Mr. Mushnik is considering throwing in the trowel, but just when it seems that the roses are destined for the garbage, Mushnik’s accident-prone assistant, Seymour, discovers a strange and exotic new plant. Seymour names his discovery Audrey Two, but Audrey Two is no ordinary shrub, it grows at a phenomenal rate thanks to a rather unusual diet, oh, and it has plans for world domination. Only Seymour knows Audrey Two’s terrible secrets and he’s prepared to risk everything for a shot at fame, fortune and true love.”

Once again, apologies for tardy posting, I saw this a few weeks ago.

Following on from last year’s success My Fair Lady, Pitlochry Festival Theatre present Little Shop of Horrors. Taking as its starting point classic 50s B-Movies, this comedy-horror musical is ably performed by a 14-strong cast who take on all of the roles as well as the orchestral duties. 

Deserving of praise are Charlie Tighe in the central role of Seymour, who takes tortured geek to a whole new level and Elliot Harper (above centre) who, amongst a series of roles, delivers a lesson in how to pitch an over the top role perfectly. Kate Quinnell (below), last year’s Eliza Doolittle turns in another accomplished performance, singing, dancing, playing the clarinet and acting with aplomb. Special mention must go to Dan Smith as the voice of Audrey, who had to step in to cover with minimal notice – so adept was the performance that you would never have believed he was anything other than the originator of the role. 

My only concern with this, as it was with last year’s musical show at Pitlochry, was that the vocals and music were seriously under-powered. It may be the fault of the amplification or the fact that the actors had to double up as musicians but it all needed a little more oomph. The quality was there it was just lacking in volume. That said, the sets, costumes and the fabulous animated plant Audrey were first class and there were laughs a-plenty to keep everyone entertained.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Port Na Craig, Pitlochry, runs until October 13

Author:  Howard Ashman

Music: Alan Menken

Director: John Durnin