“My mummy says I’m a miracle.” So says the opening number of Matilda Jr, Haslemere Thespians Next Generation’s latest production, which played to full houses at the Royal School. And a miracle it certainly was.

When one goes to a children’s performance, one often expects to make allowances, be supportive, say nice things. No need here. This was a great show, end of. From start to finish, this talented group engaged and charmed the audience with energy and wit.

Well drilled by Sally Waghorn and Kim Seymour, with musicianship we have come to expect from Chris Snelling, these kids could teach a few adults a thing or two about diction. They were a pleasure.

Definitely a great team effort, but the show stands or falls on two central performances. Dan Bayley is a familiar face on the Haslemere stage. His portrayal of the appalling Miss Trunchbull was delivered with relish and great comic timing. And Rosalie Gateshill’s performance of Matilda lit up the stage with pathos, mischief, anger and joy. A promising talent indeed.

Hannah Chant brought emotional truth to sad but brave Miss Honey. Ollie McLaren and Liv Sellers achieved ultra-chavdom as Matilda’s awful parents. And a word for an actor of few words - Zachary Darrington as Matilda’s intellectually-challenged brother - monosyllabically stealing every scene.

There were others I could mention but space doesn’t permit that. Suffice it to say that everyone on the stage played their part to the hilt, exuding fun and warmth. A joyous night.

David Greenwood