When my boys were young, I would regularly read to them and their classmates. One of our favourite authors was Roald Dahl, so I spent many Fridays reading chapters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda.
Saturday night, I had the chance to experience Matilda - the Musical live at London' Cambridge Theatre.
It was a delightful interpretation of a delightful book.
Matilda is the story of a young girl who loves books, but is despised, discouraged, and verbally abused by her ignorant and amoral parents. When she goes to school, she finds the other children absurdly ignorant, the older kids callous and teasing and - worst of all - the headmistress Miss Trunchbull is cruel and domineering.
Matilda is bright and mischievous and unafraid. But her life is made miserable by the adults who surround her. The one great exception is her kindly teacher Miss Honey, who cares about Matilda, but is too timid to stand up to Miss Trunchbull.
The Cambridge Theatre production made use of the entire theatre. Actors frequently entered and exited the stage up the center aisle (right next to my seat, as it turned out); and the action sometimes extended up into the balcony. In a break from tradition, the intermission ended without warning with Matilda's father stepping onstage to read a statement on the dangers of excessive reading. People hurried back to their seat when they discovered the play had resumed.
The title character was played perfectly by Tilly-Raye Bayer, a tiny girl with the cherubic face and a precocious attitude.
I saw many children in the audience enjoying the show, but many adults like me also had a great time. It took me back to a simpler time that I shared with my boys.
My second experience in London's famous West End theatre district was a delight.