Sheffield youngsters have great fun with The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch
The Worst Witch

Review by Sarah Crabtree of The Worst Witch, on at the Lyceum, Sheffield, until Saturday, February 2

Welcome, parents, to Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches!

Where thoroughbred girls of a magical persuasion might excel in potions of perfection, daring displays of in-flight broomstickery, and a centuries’ old education in the ancient art of witchcraft.

Long before there was Harry Potter there was Mildred Hubble, and here she is: the lovably clumsy heroine of Jill Murphy’s adored The Worst Witch books (and a current CBBC series) brought brilliantly to life for the stage.

The magic happens against a backdrop of bubbling test-tubes and Bunsen burners, of friendships forged over fits of the giggles - all very jolly hockeysticks, or should that be broomsticks.

A multi-talented cast of just 10 take on the roles of not only the girls and schoolmistresses but the aerial acrobatics, the songs, the slow-mo, the dancing, the cats! and the (fabulous) band too. Rosie Abraham is perfectly awful as Mildred’s nasty nemesis Ethel, and Polly Lister crackles as Miss Cackle and her dastardly evil twin, whose plot to take over the school must be foiled by our Mil’.

The special effects are charmingly low tech and all the funnier for it. There are tricks and treats, action both on the stage and down among the audience, and lots and lots of laughs.

The Worst Witch is the best fun - let it cast a spell on you too.