ZIO MWALE, Lusaka
BAREFEET Theatre last weekend performed a new Christmas production at the Lusaka Playhouse titled Matilda, an adaption of the famous classical Roald Dahl children’s book.
The play that was specifically adapted for the festive period by former Barefeet artistic director Adam McGuigan saw hundreds of children and parents gather at the playhouse on Friday evening for the show.
The play featured the character Matilda played by Mercy Namonje, Miss Tranchball (Ephraim Phiri) and Miss Honey (Mwape Shumba). The father of Matilda was played by John Chanda while Mercy Kambulu, Chembe Mwanza and Amos Malokwa were the three wives.
Matilda is a little girl who happens to be a genius but has the worst parents and worst school principal imaginable. She is only five years old. Although a genius, her father was too stupid to even notice. Worse, her horrible headmistress Miss Trunchbull is a bully who makes life difficult for Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey and her friends.
With her stupid father who had three wives, Matilda became an avid and enthusiastic reader. She read books From Frances Hogdson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (it was full of mystery) to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Through reading, Matilda travelled all over the world while in her little room in an English village and eventually she discovered she had supernatural powers.
At school, her headmistress who was mean to her looked more like an eccentric and bloodthirsty character of a horror movie than a headmistress of a nice school for children. Miss Honey, her teacher, was the only person who recognised her abilities.
Another key character was Lavender, Matilda’s friend, who was exceptionally small for her age. Matilda, Lavender and the entire classroom managed to overcome Miss Tranchball through Matilda’s supernatural abilities.
Former Barefeet artistic director Adam McGuigan told the Weekend Mail that the story has the same original concept but some of its scenarios were advanced to be adapted for the Zambian stage.
“We adapted this play specifically for this season, as you can see its Christmas and families need family time at such shows,” Adam said.
The play that was characterised by music, song, dance, puppetry, circus, spectacle, mischief and fun impressed the audience.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda won the Children’s Book Award shortly after it was published in 1988, and it has continued to delight audiences ever since.