Matthew Warchus + Matilda
Tuesday, August 20 th, 2019 at 00:08 am Dr. Joy Browne
Director (s):
Matthew Warchus
Oona Laurence, Lauren Ward, Bertie Carvel
Children's Book

Matilda is based on the Roald Dahl story about a young girl who was treated badly by her parents. This is the musical on Broadway and it’s a little hard to review because part of it is a very scary story, very British, and I saw it with Oona Laurence, who is a very talented young nine year old who plays the role of Matilda, who’s parents keep calling her a boy and don’t really get her at all. This is kind of the Harry Potter of little British school girls. She is certainly abused by the retched Ms. Trunchbull, played by Bertie Carvel. The kids in this are just plain fantastic, as is Matilda, who’s just charming and a huge amount of the story rests on her little scrawny shoulders. The set is wonderful. My difficulties with it, if there is a difficulty, is that the first act is significantly better than the second, partially because it is a bit more whimsical. The second act has to deal with the uprising and direct child abuse. Ms.
Trunchbull is a little less formidable and scary in the first act rather than the second, and the story that Matilda spins in the library and turns out to be the life story of Ms. Honey, her sympathetic teacher, which gets a little hazy and a little uncomfortable about what we’re seeing here. It sort of smacks of child abuse in the second act, which is only hinted at in the first. I guess that’s part of the problem, that British stories in general, whether we’re talking about Mary Poppins, or Secret Garden, or even Harry Potter seem to have a dark undertone that is not really a part of children’s stories in America. It makes it a little uncomfortable, especially when it’s a musical, but the kids are terrific. If you can get past the notion that we have a musical here about child abuse, you’re probably going to be okay. Three and a half stars.

Joy Meter