(…and no, it’s not a typo…)
On Thursday last week, my sister, Mum and I hopped on the tube to go and see Matilda – the West End sensation. We had been to see it before around the time it opened, because it was captioned, but there was a problem with the position of the caption box so a lot of the deaf patrons missed quite a bit of the text. However, the theatre staff were so apologetic and took everyone’s issues on board and actually gave us the option to go and see it again with captions. They made sure that there were two caption boxes this time and adjusted the height of the box with the issue – and seated us in positions where we could all see the box. It was so much better, and I was impressed with how the theatre staff and manager sorted everything out for us. I appreciate how difficult it is to caption shows because my Mum is a captioner – which is an interesting post for another time, I think!
Anyway, what is there to say about Matilda? I love the book. The book was one of those features of my childhood, along with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and The Witches. Roald Dahl’s books are amazing – full of weirdness and darkness, yet also the kind of books that fuel a child’s hungry imagination. I can’t imagine having grown up without them, and my copies are battered, the spines almost falling apart. What I could most relate to with Matilda was her love for books – and I still feel that Roald Dahl was a genius for creating her, because he made me feel it was okay to be a bookworm, and to love learning things. Matilda, on one hand, goes through an awful lot of horrible things, and is bent on surviving childhood with parents that never wanted her, and on the other hand, she feels protective of the other children and Miss Honey in Trunchbull’s school. She becomes the heroine, instead of a victim. She takes her love of books and intellect and turns it into a huge strength. Although I would have been hard pressed to explain why I loved that so much when I was a kid, I think my love of the book was also about giving myself the will to survive in a hearing world – to just survive in the big bad world.
So, it was absolutely incredible to see Matilda come alive on stage. The performances were spot on – Miss Trunchbull, I have to say, is played to perfection. I mean, I think its astounding what the costume and make-up department did to make her character come alive, and the mannerisms were exactly as I had imagined them. There were things they changed from the book, but I think the story and the spirit are still there. I know that Roald Dahl would be laughing along with the rest of the audience! The music and the lyrics are hilarious and true to the spirit of the story – I think Tim Minchin deserves many awards for bringing the book to life through music. The title of the blog post is a homage to one of the songs – Sometimes You Just Have To Be A Little Bit…Norty. Indeed.
Most of all, the show is an ode to books, the power of a story, the power of imagination to change the world. Even though Matilda is a little person, she pulled something out of herself and found the strength to fight back. Its a message worth repeating – never give up – and never stop reading. Or imagining.
You seemed so far away,” Miss Honey whispered, awestruck.
“Oh, I was. I was flying past the stars on silver wings,” Matilda said. “It was wonderful.” ~ Matilda by Roald Dahl.