5 July 2012

Matilda is a great dollop of fun

Matilda has had such good reviews that I had to give it a go. And the reviews are right with one or two exceptions.

Every facet of the play has been crafted with care and intelligence making it one of the most absorbing evenings that I have ever spent in the theatre.

It starts with the stage that is ringed with books and children's building blocks that spell out Matilda and it ends with an extravagant and unexpected final act.

In the middle there is so much to celebrate including two major show-pieces. In one Miss Trunchbull throws a girl in to the audience and in the other she (played by a he) does something surprising and spectacular.

The story is brilliant too. It is very much the original Roald Dahl but with some tweaks for the format and duration of the theatre. A nice touch was the way that the back story was told by Matilda to a friendly librarian as a story within the story. Another was a still that Matilda used at the end to get out of a tricky situation.

The cast was excellent, especially the previously mentioned Miss Trunchball and Matilda. These two are very much the stars of the show.

They are very well supported and a special mention should go to Matilda's father who played the not very bright wide-boy with aplomb and humour.

I've not mentioned yet that Matilda is a musical and that is deliberate.

There are quite a few songs in the show but there are large gaps between them that are filled with normal theatre. The songs play second, or third, fiddle to the story and staging and the play would be just as good, if a little shorter, without them.


The songs do not have the stage to themselves and they come with more on histrionics that keep you glued to the action. I liked the alphabet song where books were gradually added to a book case enabling children to climb up them.

Matilda is a thoroughly entertaining show that reeks attention to detail and shows what the presence of a strong guiding hand can do. And you do not have to take children with you to appreciate that.

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