Another post from my trip to London the other week. As well as the Elizabeth and Mary exhibition and a wander around the national gallery, we went to see Matilda, the musical based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name.
So I want to say that this isn’t the first time that I’d seen Matilda – I actually saw it in its original incarnation at the RSC in Stratford a decade ago, but it was the first time I’ve seen it in the West End. I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my memories of it – especially as I’ve got the CD (yes I know, it’s that long ago) and have sung along to it in the car a lot, but actually it really did. There are a few bits of staging that have definitely changed since that Christmas run, but that’s probably not a surprise given that the stage at Stratford was much more of a thrust stage than the Cambridge theatre is. We bought our tickets on the day (from the theatre) and were sat in the middle of the Dress Circle, which was really good value and a really good view. There is some running around in the aisles in the stalls that you can’t see, but for me it wasn’t worth paying an extra £50+ for.
In terms of the book vs the show, Matilda’s own story is fairly similar, but there’s a secondary plot strand added to tie in (that really works, don’t worry!) and you see less of the telekinises than you get in the book – but given that you have to try and make that work on stage, it’s not a surprise. I’ve always thought that picking Tim Minchen to do the music was inspired – he’s funny and clever and a little bit dark and sly. And like the book it’s funny but funny and suitable for children – there aren’t any jokes here that parents are going to get awkward questions about. And I know it’s a children’s show so you’d think that there wouldn’t be, but actually you’d be surprised!
Anyway, we had a blast, five out of five, would recommend, just maybe don’t go on a Saturday (or in the school holidays) if chatting children during the show are going to annoy you!