I’m not a theatre person. No, that’s a lie. I am. I just don’t LOOK like a theatre person. Two weeks prior I went to the Zelda Orchestra, which admittedly was full of filthy millennials like myself who were willing to part with a large swathe of cash in the name of nostalgia. Prior to this I would go to my theatre buddies various plays which vary from feminist renditions of Hamlet to deeply troubling tales of families coming to terms with their father being a rapist. Engaging stuff. For all this, I rarely go to musicals.
So on Thursday 24th I found myself at the opening night of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. The first impression I got when entering the Civic was “Damn, I am way underdressed for this.”
The Bachelor (the cool one that everyone liked) and his wife (who has since negated the Bachelor’s status(I think)) looked good standing around. A child posed on the staircase in the foyer covered in diamonds. A 10 year old stood at attention in his penguin suit next to his equally penguined dad.
In my left jacket pocket was a bag of peanut M&M’s, and in my right, a bag of jerky. My wife hunted around, found two kids who looked like just regular kids and used them as the bar for whether her semi-formal work clothes were underdressing or not. She passed with flying colours.
Upon entering the theatre proper we were instantly dazzled by the set design, which looked like a giant game of scrabble had exploded all up the sides of the front of the stage.
The opening numbers kicks off and instantly sets the tone for what’s to come. Brattish children proclaim they’re little miracles while their parents fawn over them. I couldn’t help but think of the diamond covered kid on the staircase, posing for her photo from her parents who were relishing the chance to trot out their expensive designer child.
Then came Matilda, a character who had never been told she was ever anything but a pile of maggots, but who had an innate sense of justice. Finally was Miss Honey, her well intentioned sweet hearted teacher who has been ground up by the school system as much as her students.
The story will hit you right in the heart. It’s as timely as it was in 2010 when it was first put to the stage and in 1996 when Roald Dahl finished penning it, two years before his own death. It takes pot shots at our flawed school system but always comes back to the emotive side of the story.
Bully’s exist, both when you’re a kid and as an adult. In fact they can be even worse as adults. They’re more methodical in wearing you down.
The story simply asks, are you going to take it? I pondered this as I nibbled on jerky.
The show itself was spectacular, the kids were on point and Izellah Connelly’s rendition of Matilda was great. I later listened to some youtube clips of a few of the songs that got caught in my head from the original stage show, and I thought our Matilda’s performance was much better. Maybe you’ll be lucky to get her, but there are also three other Matilda’s on standby in case of earthquakes or eagle attacks.
James Millar played Miss Trunchbull, who if you need a refresher is the bullish head-mistress who swings kids around by the hair, which she does with much gusto on stage as well.
If you’ve ever been emotionally tortured, this show is for you.