We managed to catch The Trunchbull out of her knee-high socks and ask the actor behind Theatreland’s most notorious bully some questions before he went back to terrorising the kids in Matilda.
They say you should never work with children and pets – how are you getting on working with A LOT of children?
They are WONDERFUL! They have so much to do, and work so hard that they make you have to raise your game. They truly are the stars of this show.
Trunchbull is quite a sprightly old dear – how do you have the energy to play her night in, night out?
You build up your stamina in rehearsals, and over the first few weeks. Plus all the physical stuff is so much fun – and the audience’s reactions get you through.
You’ve worked on both stage and screen – which do you prefer and why?
They both bring different challenges, and are exciting in different ways – but shows and roles like this, in front of a live audience are hard to beat.
Your positive reviews in other shows have seen you be called a ‘scene stealer’ and ‘a figure of comic charm’. How important are critics’ reviews to you?
It’s always nice to have critics, along with everybody else, appreciate your work – everyone has their own idea of what they want to see, and you can’t please everyone all the time.
What attracted you to the role of Miss Trunchbull?
When I first saw the show in Stratford-upon-Avon, I thought it was truly brilliant, and I’ve always loved the book. The Trunch is the ultimate villain: nasty, troubled, maniacal and ultimately destined to be beaten.
How does it feel to play a woman?
Haha! It’s a lot of fun making her feminine enough but still ogre-like.
What is your favourite Roald Dahl novel and why?
George’s Marvellous Medicine has always been my favourite, since I was a boy. It’s such a dark and funny story with brilliant characters.
And finally, what makes Matilda great night out for schools and groups?
It is a genuinely beautiful piece of theatre. The script and music are fantastic, as is the set and all the costumes, plus the action is non-stop. It will move you and make you really laugh and you will want to see it again straight away.
See Craige Els in action as Miss Trunchbull this half term by booking your tickets to Matilda the musical, here, now.