Thursday, August 22, 2013

Parents behaving badly, or Matilda

Matilda is a special girl. At five years old, she can read, she can do maths, she can get clever revenge. And she can inspire a musical. And she can inspire lots of little girls to go to the theater. Lots of little girls. A Shubert Theater full of little girls. Which was pretty wonderful. Their parents? Not so wonderful. Eating candy, talking, standing up to see better, using their cell phones. Are you kidding me? Were you inspired by the adults (not Miss Honey) in the show? Do you think this is how you are supposed to act? And to the man sitting next to me who did not have a little girl with him, but who literally pushed on my knee and foot and arm—no matter how little I engaged with him—throughout the entire show? I hope you have a daughter who superglues your wife's feather hat to your head one day.

The little girls in the audience? Completely well-behaved, rapt, appreciative. 

But those parents? Try as they might, they couldn't ruin ALL my enjoyment of the show. For example, the set design was delightful. Here. I snapped an illicit photo. Am I terrible snob? The thing I liked best about this entire show is the set design? Also, the architecture of the Shubert Theater, which I do love, and totally love being surrounded by? Yes, I'm a terrible snob. But I do love that, and I did love the set design, and I was very taken with the stamina and commitment of some of the actors—especially Oona Lawrence, who played Matilda—(although I really hated one of the performances. No, really, I had to look elsewhere. Also three others of the performances? Not so great. Also, many of the kids? Also not so interesting. Which really speaks to the direction and the general style, which I guess I am not endorsing.

Does this sound like a terrible critique and not a blogpost about selfish joy? Well, speaking of parents behaving badly .... All summer long, I told James I had 2 tickets to see Matilda. I bought the book so we could both read it. I reminded him at the beginning of this week that we were going. Then the morning of the show, I checked my tickets and realized that .... I only had one. Then I remembered. Of course I only had one. It was insanely hard to get. There were no 2 seats together for decades. Duh. So I told James that I really apologized, but that I had messed up and there was only one ticket. He asked what I wanted to do about it, and (here comes the selfish part) I said, "I'm going to go alone." James was super gracious about it, and barely even gave me my quota of shit for the mistake. (That's OK; I felt bad enough.) But it did set up the theater as a truly selfish experience, and as far as the joy? I think it might be thinking about Oona, and what her life is like right now, and how much she has already achieved, and hoping she is having fun, and hoping she loves the people she is working with, and hoping she feels great about herself, and hoping that every night when she walks out onto this stage, she also thinks to herself, "That is really good set design."

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