Matilda Bad Guy: “I Play A Damaged Girl”


The Drama Desk had a wonderful luncheon at Sardi’s on Friday, where the topic was “The Art of Storytelling.”

And while learning about that art, we also were lavished with some prime examples of it.

One of the panelists, Bertie Carvel, plays the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull in the dark musical Matilda.

“She’s basically a damaged little, girl, which I’m not,” he said, “who’s grown up to be a damaged older lady. She was a great hammer thrower, and she has the musculature. But her triumphs are faded, and she’s become a jaded, psychotic, and murderous woman.” Sounds like some of my friends.

Also illuminating was Jane Houdyshell, who remembered having to fake sleeping onstage in the show Well, only to hear two women in the audience murmur, “It’s a dummy! Look at the legs!”

Talk turned to reviews and Kristine Nielsen (from Vanya…) said, “When they’re bad, they’re devastating, and when they’re good, they’re never good enough.” Houdyshell chimed in that she stopped reading reviews after one critic wrote, “Her accent is as thick as her ankles.”

She paused, then wisecracked, “Look at the legs!” and we all cracked up.

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