REVIEW: ‘Matilda’ – The Island Free School

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There’s a star in the making in young Sienna Hobbs, a Year 7 student at the Island Free School.

Her powerful vocals, clear diction and expressive performance in the titular role in The Island Free School’s 30 minute production of Matilda blew the audience away, and her rendition of ‘Naughty’ would give any Matilda in the West End a run for their money!

It’s not easy to sing to backing tracks, and Matilda – composed by Tim Minchin – is musically challenging without factoring the lack of flexibility that comes with working to tracks. This was of no concern to Sienna, or indeed to any of the students, who handled the changes in tempo, style and key with ease.

Another stand-out vocal performance came from William Gregory as Bruce Bogtrotter, whose ‘gospel’-esque solo in ‘Revolting Children’ was a definite highlight – this is not an easy style in which to sing, and William gave it a wealth of attitude, with great comic timing to boot!

Bruce is the unfortunate soul forced to eat an entire chocolate cake by the school’s wicked headmistress, played with nastiness a-plenty by the brilliant Bethan Marsh, who commanded the stage throughout as Miss Trunchbull.

A fabulous comic duo was born in the form of Mr and Mrs Wormwood, played by Jack Perry and Ruby Bodenham respectively; they bounced off each other brilliantly, particularly during the exchange that immediately followed Mr Wormwood’s hair turning green.

Adding a little calm and kindness to the storm of comedic villains was Lillia Walker as Miss Honey, who shone in her scene with Matilda in which she revealed her tragic backstory.

Neeve Thomas, Ella Bayliss, Matthew Cheesman and Eleanor Jenkins were all strong in their supporting roles, and an energetic ensemble completed the young cast.

The energy on the stage was faultless and seeing so many students involved in a performance capacity was fantastic; how reassuring indeed for the future of theatre on the Island, and indeed beyond.

It takes a lot of work to put on a production, and more and more on the Island there is a trend for students taking on production roles as well as appearing in the show, and with this in mind a huge shout-out has to go to the Year 10 Drama Ambassadors and the KS4 Textiles Pupils, all of whom deserve to be mentioned by name.

Jacob French, Abbie Revert, Ella Gregory, Leah-Louisa Peace, Silas Blevins, Jack Coombs, Charlie Walford, Kaitlyn Scriver, Meredyth Smith, Amber Wilmott, Isobelle Johnstone-Palmer, Carrie Mowat, Amy Passey, Millie Jackman, Bethany Murthwaite and Erin Powell – a huge congratulations to you all. The costumes were colourful, the choreography was creative, the set was well thought-out and some of the props were utterly inspired. ‘The Newt’ was a firm favourite!

A final shout-out must go to Miss Sammons, Mrs Breach and Miss Sheen, who the students were keen to thank in the programme and who have clearly offered them a lot of support and humour throughout the production process.

Matilda was a thoroughly enjoyable production; in fact, the only thing that could have improved this production was another half an hour on the running time – it was over far too soon!

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