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Mother’s Day: What Charlie and the Chocolate Factory taught me

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a Mother’s Day hit – and not just for the funny Oompa-Loompas and fantastic dance routines. Ali Roff finds that giving and gratitude shine from the storyline like hidden gems…

by Ali Roff

See Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the theatre for Mother's Day

‘Let’s share it!’ Charlie Bucket exclaims to his dishevelled, overworked mum and dad and hungry grandparents, turning to hand them a square of his Willy Wonka chocolate bar; his only birthday present. ‘No, no,’ they say to Charlie, ‘too rich for us, you have it.’ 

He smiles and excitedly wonders if he’ll be able to make it last a whole year, as his mum wishes him goodnight before she goes out to work again.

Would I have shared my only present on my birthday with my family when I was Charlie’s age, I wondered? Or would I have snapped my fingers like little diva Violet Beauregarde? Pranced around like Veruca Salt, or more likley, gobbled the whole thing, ala Augustus Gloop? As I marvelled at Charlie’s generosity, my own mum giggled beside me at Augustus yodel-burping mid-wurtzel. Just like Charlie’s, my mother always put me before her own needs. Still does, in fact.

Mum and I bounced in our seats, chair-dancing along to the Bucket family’s wacky celebration of Charlie’s golden ticket discovery as he whirled round, holding the glistening foil trumphantly above his head. Who else can you celebrate life’s highs with, with no comparison or jealousy, if not your true nearest and dearest? Charlie’s parents and grandparents are his biggest fans. At our pre-theatre dinner beforehand I remembered, my mum had been cheerleading me through my recent achivements too.

As we entered the magical world of Willy Wonka, and Augustus fell into the chocolate waterfall, Violet exploded into purple glitter over the audience, Veruca was thrown into the ‘bad nut pile’ by giant squirrels ridden by Oompa-Loompas, and Mike Teavee morphed into a tiny telly character, with hilarious effect, we laughed and gasped until only little Charlie was left.

‘What about Charlie’s life supply of confectionary’? asked Granpa Joe, as Mr Wonka prepared to send them home. ‘Why you have the everlasting gobstopper!’ replied Wonka. Mum and I bristled at the injustice.

‘It’s all right Grandpa Joe, I love the gobstopper, I don’t need anything else!’ smiled Charlie. He was grateful for what he had. And he kept giving – this time with his creativity and ideas for Wonka’s inventions, of hot icecream and more.

I have a quote by Eckhart Tolle printed on a piece of paper, stuck onto my mirror at home: 'Aknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance.' As Willy Wonka flew his Great Glass Elevator into the air above us, and Charlie inherited Wonka’s world, it seemed that Charlie and his Chocolate Factory were teaching me the same lesson. To be grateful for what you have is the secret to ‘having it all’.

Afterwards, hands stinging from clapping, we walked to the train station arm-in-arm, giggling at the ridiculousness of the Oompa-Loompas – their mad experssions and crazy dance moves. And I thought, smiling, as long as we can giggle along to life together, we’ll have it all.

For the perfect pre-theatre brunch or afternoon tea, The Waldorf Hotel is only a few paces around the corner from the Theatre Royal. Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea or Brunch: £45pp, waldorfhilton.co.uk

Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, directed by Sam Mendes: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London WC2B 5JF, Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Wednesday & Saturday 2.30pm, prices from £25-£67.50. Box Office: 0844 858 8877. Booking fees apply. Book tickets online for Mother’s Day perfomances here