Friday, November 25, 2011

Dahl's Matilda musical a hit in London (excerpt)

Everyone rejoices at Matilda: The Musical

Matilda: The Musical comes to the West End. Everyone’s happy.

Poster for Matilda the Musical

Dennis Kelly’s Matilda: The Musical, based on Roald Dahl’s book about an ultra-special telekinetic young girl’s battles with her fearsome teacher, has finally arrived in the West End, at the Cambridge Theatre, after a highly successful run in Stratford.

Matilda, a bookish girl (played by four rotating girls: Eleanor Worthington Cox, Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram and Sophia Kiely) is not happy with her television-addict family (Josie Walker and Paul Kaye), who think that she ought not to read at all. The headmistress of her school, Miss Trunchbull (Bertie Carvel), is one of the most repellant villains in all of children’s literature – right up there with the Child Catcher.

Matilda manages to defeat Trunchbull; along the way there are many marvellous moments of bumptious fun – and a child gets thrown into the stratosphere. Critics, though they may differ over details, are weeping with joy over the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production as a whole, and reaching deep into their historical and filmic knowledge for apt tyrannical comparisons to describe Carvel’s performance. The kids are great, too.

Cherry on the cake. Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph was ecstatic, saying he thought the show would “delight” “for years to come.” There’s something “miraculous’ about it, and – sacrilege! – the show even improves on Dahl’s original. Tim Minchin’s score is “smashing.”

Power of protest. Lyn Gardner in The Guardian was equally blissed out. The West End isn’t dumbing down at all. It captures all of Dahl’s “delicious nastiness”, but also “celebrates the solace of books and the transforming powers of the imagination.” Its message – that “rebellion and protest can defeat the bullies” is extremely powerful. When the children rise against Trunchbull, it’s “as glorious a moment” as any you’ve ever seen in the theatre.

No comments:

Post a Comment