The Royal Shakespeare Company’s award-winning musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” is being staged in Shenzhen.
Photos by Lin Jianping.
Dahl’s fantastical tale tells about Matilda Wormwood, a 5-year-old genius, the idiot family that mistreats her, the sadistic headmistress who terrorizes her and the loving teacher who comes to her aid.
She lives unhappily with a slack-jawed older brother, a crooked used-car-salesman father and a tango-competition-obsessed mother, who all bemoan the fact that the little girl is always reading. She reads Dickens, Dostoevsky and more, guided at first by the local librarian Mrs. Phelps, and then by her first schoolteacher, the young and lovely Miss Honey. Her arch nemesis is Agatha Trunchbull, the school’s abusive leader, who calls children “maggots” and believes that only punishment can teach a child. Matilda, who has a strong sense of fairness, decides to bring Trunchbull down.
"Matilda" actresses (from L to R) Morgan Santo, Kitty Harris, Sofia Poston.
Adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, the musical has received widespread critical acclaim and box-office popularity, winning seven Olivier Awards — at the time, the most such awards ever won by a single show. At the 2013 Tony Awards, the show won five awards.
Music director Louis Zurnamer (L) and resident director Natalie Gilhome (R).
Besides the timeless story, what distinguishes “Matilda” is its immersive physical production and staging. Rob Howell’s inventive set dominated by children’s blocks morphs with dexterity and style, while his witty costumes provide just the right amount of comment.
The show was presented to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in October 2015 as they attended a creative industry event in London.