Food is absolutely everywhere in Roald Dahl’s stories, from enchanted sweets and rivers of chocolate, to giant, fibrous fruits. Anyone who’s read, seen, or simply heard of Matilda, will probably agree that Bruce Bogtrotter’s chocolate cake incident is one of the most iconic moments in the whole story. Poor, unsuspecting Bruce, made to sit and force down every last bite of that enormous gooey cake, while the rest of his classmates look on in awe…
When I heard the words ‘Matilda themed afternoon tea’, my mind ran away with itself ever so slightly, and the above is not a million miles away from what I pictured. Minus the nausea and public humiliation – of course.
Overactive imagination aside, if there’s one thing I love, it’s an afternoon tea. So, as you might imagine, a Matilda themed afternoon tea, followed by an evening performance of the show itself, well, let’s just say I was very much looking forward to it.
Situated in the heart of Covent Garden, right opposite the Cambridge Theatre, where Matilda the Musical has been running ever since it premiered in 2011, the venue for our much anticipated afternoon tea – Scoff and Banter – couldn’t have been more conveniently located.
A cool, modern eatery and cocktail bar, tucked away inside the chic Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street hotel, the restaurant provided the perfect escape from the bustle of the city during the dreaded London rush hour.
Upon arrival, we were shown to our seats in the dining area straight away, and offered a choice of fresh coffee and teas while we waited for the rest of the afternoon tea to arrive. And arrive it did. No more than a few sips into our Earl Grey, and we were presented with a tiered tray filled with freshly baked cakes and delicate finger sandwiches.
In traditional English afternoon tea fashion, the selection included classics such as cucumber and cream cheese on soft white bread (crusts off, of course!) and free range egg with watercress, as well as mini smoked salmon bagels, and mini wholemeal baguettes filled with sundried tomatoes and ham.
When the time came for sweet treats, we certainly weren’t disappointed. Freshly baked mini scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, were accompanied by glazed strawberry tarts, rich chocolate layer cakes oozing with toffee buttercream, and the original tea-time favourite – the Victoria sponge, in miniature form.
To round off our afternoon of nostalgic delights, we were treated to a decidedly more grown-up digestif: Prosecco jelly shots with fresh summer berries. It certainly packed a punch! Perhaps not the most waistline-friendly way to spend an afternoon, but in the words of Matilda herself: ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.’
Sweet tooth well and truly satiated, we ventured forth to enjoy our main course in the form of an evening of feel-good musical entertainment.
Before setting foot inside the theatre, I’d heard only good things about the show itself. Based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s classic, and with music and lyrics by the comedy mastermind that is Tim Minchin, as far as I was concerned, it couldn’t be anything but pure genius. Without wanting to give away too much of the show to those yet to see it, it’s safe to say my expectations of The Royal Shakespeare Company’s award-winning production were met – and then some.
Although the show has been running for almost four years, this particular evening marked the first performance for Director Matthew Warchus and nine new child cast members, including 10-year-old Evie Hone, as Matilda.
Given that this was a debut performance, a few first night wobbles would have been understandable – even expected – but there were none. Evie and company were flawless, bending to the demands of some highly energetic dance routines and pretty wordy song lyrics – including a spot of Russian – without breaking a sweat.
Craige Els (Ripper Street, The Bletchley Circle, Call the Midwife, The Imitation Game) made for a very convincing Miss Trunchbull – hilarious and terrifying in equal measure; while Rebecca Thornhill and Michael Begley did perfect justice to the infuriatingly bad parents that are Mrs and Mrs Wormwood.
An intricate construction of wooden alphabet blocks, gymnasium equipment and classroom ephemera, the set was a triumph of theatrical design, made ever more impressive by the cast’s ability to negotiate it like the back of their proverbial hand, and the songs themselves were all that they’d promised to be. Catchy, feel-good, funny, and, above all, expertly written and performed. All in all, a wonderful evening of fun and frolics that is certainly not just for kids.
Until next time x
Thank you to Matilda The Musical and Scoff & Banter for hosting Oh So London for this review. All views are our own. Matilda The Musical is booking at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End until 18 December 2016. For more information please see Matildathemusical.com or call 0844 412 4652. You can also follow the show on twitter, instagram and Facebook. Find more information about the official Matilda The Musical Afternoon Tea at the Radisson Blu Edwardian here.