Thursday, 8 December 2011

Theatrical Interlude 20

Roald Dahl's Matilda, Cambridge Theatre London, December 2011

This is another performance that I'd been looking forward to for a while, and indeed I'd booked tickets shortly after the box office opened way back in the summer.

Now nearly a week after seeing Matilda I am still not entirely sure what I thought of it. There was lots to enjoy.

The acting was amazing, the child actors were very good especially the girl playing Matilda. Miss Trunchbull (played by Bertie Carvel) was outstanding and it was very hard to believe that it was a man playing the role.

I quite liked the set, it was clever and eye catching but at times it was distracting, all too often I found myself trying to spot words formed by the letters. The way the props appeared from being set into the stage was very clever and I did like the way that you saw how the staging was working.

However, for me, there was lots that made this an outing that was merely 'meh' rather than 'wow':
  • there were no catchy tunes that I came out humming, in fact each act seemed to only have one song that was reworded...
  • the plot had been changed. Matilda the novel isn't an overly complex book and in changing the story I felt that you really lost just how exceptional the child Matilda was.
  • The book is all about championing books and stories and I felt this was lost totally, especially in the scenes just after the interval where audience members were mocked for reading (and for taking part in the audience participation!)
  • at times I really couldn't hear when the adults were singing
  • what was the point of the extra story lines when Dahl had created a perfect book in the first place?!
  • I couldn't take Mr Wormwood seriously as he just reminded me of David Tenant's Doctor Who and I was expecting to hear the TimeLord every time the character appeared on the stage.
Oh dear, this is becoming a totally damning write up and I don't think that it was truly that bad there were just so many niggles (and that is before I even think about the behaviour of the audience).

I suppose that in a way it is my own fault, this was after all an adaptation of a favourite book and we all know how much I squirm through films made from favourite books!

On the whole I had a good time, just from the reviews I expected to be blown away and I wasn't. For me I felt that Matilda didn't know if it was a play, a musical or a pantomime, if it had only been just one of these things it would have been so much better.

I think that Matilda will go on to win lots of theatre prizes and I think that those awarded to the actors are fully deserving I am just not sure of those awarded to the piece as a whole.

I'm off to re-read the book now...

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