Friday, 21 November 2014

Theatre | Matilda the Musical


When I think about films from my childhood, Matilda is the first that springs to mind. As soon as I heard it was out in the West End, I knew I wanted to see it and I’m so glad I finally have – it’s a great show, full of energy!
I hadn’t really researched the show beforehand so I wasn’t aware it was more like the book – which I haven’t read for years – but now I do know, there were elements of it I didn’t like. Some parts just didn’t make any sense to me. For example, Mrs Wormwood was a professional dancer and there was a full scene of her with her partner, obviously to act up to the musical element.  I just didn’t understand where that fitted in, in the story.
Matilda is a gifted child – by the age of four she has read all the books in the children's section of her local library and moved on to the likes of Dickens, Austen, and Hemingway. She can also do advanced maths in her head and has a real understanding of the world. Unfortunately her TV-addict parents don't appreciate her at all. She spends most of her time reading, and the rest thinking up clever revenges on them. Things only get worse when she starts school, where the headmistress Miss Trunchbull is nothing more than a horrible bully. Getting back at the Trunchbull will be much more difficult, and dangerous, but Matilda's magnificent mind starts developing even more talents!
The musical element was fantastic, with the songs written by Tim Minchin. A lot of them also had real comedic value, which the adults definitely appreciated more. The way in which each song was acted was excellent and I have to mention the School Song which was a joy to watch – the coloured lit-up alphabet blocks were such a fun idea and watching the actors climb them was spectacular in itself. The lyrics were intelligent and the tune was stuck in my head for hours after!
I loved Craige Els who played Miss Trunchbull and played the role so well. He was just everything you’d expect the terrifying bully head mistress to be. He had me in absolute hysterics and made the musical so much more enjoyable. While I’m mentioning the actors, obviously the young actors were amazing! For most of them, it was their West End debut, but you really couldn’t tell. According to the programme, there are four girls playing Matilda and on our evening, she was played by Lottie Sicilia. Being the eponymous character, she has to get a special congratulations – she was fantastic!  There was that element of sympathy, but also that moment of rejoice at the end when she was finally ‘free’.
I think I compared the show too much to the film, which is why I really didn’t like the ending and it just seemed to drag on for too long. I’m used to the Wormwoods fleeing the country and then Miss Honey and Matilda walking into the sunset, hand-in-hand, a swing in their step. The FBI agents were replaced with Russians and the final scene culminated in the mafia chasing Harry Wormwood, causing the family to make a quick getaway.
We sat in the Upper Circle, about seven rows from the back and looking back, I wish I had paid more to sit in the stalls, or at least, a little lower down. If you’re wanting to save money, then the Upper Circle is for you – but don’t expect the view to be amazing. While our view wasn’t actually obstructed, at times it was restricted and I felt as though I was missing out on all the props and action. I paid £65 for two tickets so can’t have too many complaints! I also bought the programme for £5 (great value and worth every penny), a slush for the first half (£3) and an ice cream at the interval (£3.50).
Matilda is on at the Cambridge Theatre until December 2015, with tickets priced from £20 to £67.50. You can find out more details here.

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