Matilda: The 48 Hour

‘Watch This’ present a light-hearted, good-natured romp to put a grin on your face on this wintry night.

The last 48-Hour production I saw was not my favourite, to say the least. Still, I went along to this hoping for (and expecting) better, and my hopes were definitely fulfilled.

Performed by Watch This society, Matilda: The 48 Hour evoked all the family fun of the film and, as far as I could see, left everyone in the audience grinning from ear to ear.

“She had read every magazine in the house. And I mean *every* magazine.”

The narrator, the BFG (Ben Firth), was there to guide us along and did a fine job, bar a few less savoury jokes that seemed to muddle the tone of the show. The paedophilic implications seemed shoehorned in for a bit of extra, unnecessary ‘edge’.

The story goes: a little girl, Matilda (a charming Beatrice Updegraff with her constant half-smirk), is ignored by her parents (the excellent double-act of Jake Williams and Hannah Fretwell) and bullied by her brother (David Ayland): the appropriately named Wormwoods. She is exceptionally bright and her talents, including telekinetic powers, flourish when she is sent to a school run by the evil Miss Trunchbull (Sam Forbes), where she bonds with teacher Miss Honey (Olivia Markham).


Forbes as Trunchbull provided consistent hilarity. His gait, posture, the absurd pillow-belly and his tone all echoed Pam Ferris’ sterling film performance, but there was enough of an individual stamp to render this a separate and laudable performance.

Updegraff, Forbes and Markham did not conjure the on-stage tension one hopes for, but the rehearsal process would have made that tricky.

My favourite moments were, without doubt, the excellently directed, endearingly amateur attempts to recreate the special effects of Matilda’s powers and the entire Cake Scene. Holly Phelps, as Cookie, made me laugh like no other performer in her brief appearance.

“The entire confection!”

There were hiccups, as with all 48-Hour productions: lines forgotten or repeated or jokes impaired by a forgotten prop or missed beat, but the entire cast seemed more than capable to cope. Williams, in particular, effed up with grace and wit.

My biggest disappointment: that the whole cake wasn’t eaten! Seriously, guys, a trick was missed there.

Bearing in mind that was the biggest disappointment, this was a show that reinvigorated my support for Watch This society.

The show was on October 27 at 7.30pm, and was performed in the Debating Hall in the Guild.