You guys. We need to talk about Matilda. I mean, it's been a while since I've had that glorious feeling of going to the box office to pick up my comps to see the culmination of years of work, the best thing in the world-- a new musical. So I was riding high just to be there. And it's an understatement to say that tonally, Roald Dahl is one of my biggest inspirations-- Matilda, the story of an abused little girl with sort-of-superpowers who finds a surrogate mother, most-especially close to my heart and close to home.
But I wasn't sold after the first act. I thought.... Billy Elliot + Spring Awakening + Annie + Oliver! In fact, I spent a majority of my dreams on Thursday night rewriting said first act. The parents are sort of a weak link and there's too much of them. (I saw the Mr. Wormwood understudy-- he was like a cross between Pete Doherty and Beetlejuice.) Miss Honey's first act song could (and she deserves) way way better. That's not to say, however, that there are moments where they get it absolutely right. The opening number is amazing and so right for right now. What it isn't, though, is as close to Roald Dahl as it could be. Bertie Carvel, however, as Miss Trunchbull is so pitch perfect, I actually squirmed with glee every moment the character was onstage. At first, in fact, I was convinced the role was being played by Summer Heights High's Chris Lilley. The Lavender and the Matilda were delightful. And there is this adorable Asian child with these prosthetic ears that just... I can't.
After we came back from intermission, we got things started off right and the perfection simply never stopped. The show hits its stride in a way like I have almost never seen. The way it commits to its own vocabulary and insanity and Roald Dahl-ness. There are no less than four perfect numbers. Perfect in every possible way. Lyrically, musically, tonally, conceptually, dramaturgically. I actually COULD NOT contain myself in my seat.
"When I Grow Up" on these swings...dude, the video does not do it justice. Same for "Revolting Children" and Trunchbull's big second act number "The Smell of Rebellion" set in gym class is so over-the-top-wacky that it WORKS like nothing I have ever seen. (I really want the TRUNCH hoodie she wears in the number.) Kudos, Tim Minchin. (And Dennis Kelly & Matthew Warchus & Peter Darling.) Kudos.
So listen. I'm one jaded-ass m-fing theatre-goer. I spend a lot of time analyzing and deconstructing theatre that it's almost impossible for me to let myself go to the point where I get swept up in what the show wants me to feel. But the second act of this show Took. My. Breath away. That is rare. That is precious. That is heaven. See this show.