DramaFamilyLondonReviewWest End

The Worst Witch – Vaudeville Theatre, London

Writer:  Jill Murphy

Adaptor: Emma Reeves

Director: Theresa Heskins

Reviewer: Sophia Moss

You know that awkward moment when you’re scooting your way to school and you end up being zapped to a witch’s academy where you have to make potions, learn how to fly and pretend you know what on earth is going on?

The Worst Witch is a fun, lively play within a play based on the book series by Emma Reeves. Mildred (Danielle Bird), the stories heroin, is a clumsy, awkward girl who never seems to get anything right. Despite this, she’s kind, clever and, despite not being born into a witchy family, clearly has some magic in her veins. In this adaption, the fifth-year students are performing a play written by Mildred about the events of first year when an old villain appears and attempts to take over the witchy world.

The stage at the Vaudeville theatre is small, but the set designers compensated for this by creating a moveable, metallic platform decorated with potions which is used as Miss Cackles office and the school halls. This platform moves to heighten the action and provides multiple layers for the actors to use.

The Worst Witch is performed against a pretty blue backdrop decorated with stars and, at the start of the show, a treacherous hill leading up to a spooky house surrounded by gnarly, leafless trees is on display to bring the audience into a magical, slightly spooky world. Several impressive magic acts are performed during The Worst Witch, including one scene where an actress climbs inside a small bag and vanishes.

A live band enhances The Worst Witch with their ‘ratatataaas’ to accompany scene changes and mood music to energise, uplift and scare the audience. This isn’t exactly a musical, but it does contain several catchy song adaptations.

Bird (Mildred) is an excellent singer, but her acting is a tad over the top. Polly Lister (Agatha/Miss Cackle) gives an energetic performance as the villain – although we could’ve done without all the thrusting. Rosie Abraham (Ethal) steals the show as the spoilt, selfish ‘blue-blooded’ witch who tells everyone, including the audience, that they are ‘plebs’.

The Worst Witch is a fun, family-friendly show which you can enjoy whether you’re a fan of the books or not. It’s great for the little ones, but also contains a few jokes for the parents – including a lot of Donald Trump references. If your child is a budding witch or wizard, this is the show for them.

Runs until 8 September 2019 | Image: Manuel Harlan

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