I grew up on a strict diet of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books, and so to see one of my beloved childhood classics reformed for the stage was an exciting prospect!
The tale of the mini prodigy is a universally known one. Her madcap plans for revenge on her dismissive family and her escapades in her new school, run by the fearsome Miss Trunchball, makes this a hilarious story. Her keen wish for love and understanding makes this a poignant one. The amalgamation of the two is what has made this a continually beloved tale.
My battered but much-loved paperback copy was now lost to time, but the story, with the help of the movie adaptation, remained fresh in my mind. The two have become so mixed up, in fact, that it is now entirely impossible to view Matilda Wormwood as anyone other than Mara Wilson and her father, Harry Wormwood, as anyone other than Danny DeVito. How would the stage adaptation fare against such renowned stars?
But fare well it did! Much of the essence of the original story remained but Dennis Kelly and his predominately adolescent cast reworked this into something entirely new.
Hilarious and audience interactive, I spent the entirety of the performance grinning with glee at the spectacle on stage! Key parts of the original tale remained but much had been reworked, leaving this an ultimately very different story.
By utilising more than just the stage’s floor space, in both set and script, this was one of the most visually appealing and actively exciting shows I have ever witnessed. And almost a week later and I still find myself singing the songs on a daily occasion!
This production had big boots to fill but achieved doing so on a phenomenal scale. It perfectly encapsulated both the spirit of its predecessors and its feisty namesake:
“Matilda said, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”
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