Sunday, 29 November 2015

Review: Matilda the Musical

The week before last Matilda the Musical turned 5 years old, performed for the first time in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That means I've wanted to see Matilda for approximately 5 years. Growing up, the film was one of my favourites which I'd watch over and over again, and can still quote religiously to this day. I loved the story, I loved the characters and I loved the magic. I was really interested to see how this could be brought to the stage...

The first thing I noticed about the musical was how striking the set was - not in a showy, theatrical sort of way, but a homely sort of one. This comforting visual simplicity continued throughout the show. There was nothing totally spectacular about the set but it framed the stage perfectly, complementing rather than supplementing the performance. The second thing was obviously the opening scene, which left me feeling slightly disheartened. The song wasn't memorable, there was no actual reference to Matilda, and it was all just a bit cheesy and superficial. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the rest of the show, but was praying it would get better and live up to all the wonderful things I'd heard about it...and my own expectations! 

And it did get better, definitely. But it never quite got as good as I'd expected. My main issue was with the sub-plot: Matilda spends a disproportionate time of the show telling an elaborate story about an acrobat and an escapologist, which was fine at first, but became totally excessive and overwhelming. *Spoiler alert*: that story ends up becoming Miss Honey's life story which is bizarre, and is supposed to link in with the idea that she has magical powers but it's all just too weird and detracts too much from the original plot. That was infuriating. Having said that, all the kids in it were amazing, and I'm always surprised by what exceptionally talented child actors we have in the West End. There were a couple of really good, entertaining, clever songs but it was hard to associate them with Tim Minchin - because they tended to be fairly inconsistent, and not especially memorable. The dancing had the same feel: absolutely fine, quite funny, but nothing totally mind-blowing. 

I left with very mixed feelings. I'd had a good evening, I'd enjoyed it for what it was (it's a show very much for children), and I'm glad I got to see it. But I was also glad that I hadn't paid for expensive seats, and I don't feel like I need to see it ever again. 

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