“Mr Twit’s trombone sounds like someone farting.”
The Twits, by Roald Dahl, taps perfectly into the base humour of his young readers. In the original story, there is no love lost between Mr and Mrs Twit. They play gruesome, toe-curling tricks on each other, taking amusement from each other’s misery. When they run out of money, Mr Twit decides to capture Muggle wump and his monkey family from the wild. He transforms into a brutal ringmaster, torturing the monkeys into practising dangerous tricks, until the day when the monkeys (with a little help from the Roly Poly bird) decide to get their own back…..
This stage adaptation, a co-production between Curve Leicester and the Rose Theatre and directed by Max Webster, sees the Twits as a Lancashire version of Wayne and Waynetta Slob. They live in a cargo crate daubed in neon pink letters. Also a lurid pink is Mrs Twit’s jacket, which she wears with aplomb over a skintight lurex sheath of leaopardskin nastiness. Mr Twit is visibly filthy, with skid-marks on his beige underpants, and a rotting peach dressing gown slung over his shoulders. If you could personify stench, it would look a bit like these two.
The Twits were accompanied on stage by a lively chorus of actors, who leap around singing, strumming instruments. They also play the monkeys. These perky performers helped lighten the performance; the Twits were so foul, that my daughter was a little shaken by their disgusting antics at the beginning of the performance (serving up worms on a plate – eurghhh!). But the bouncy, nimble monkeys were out in the audience, making young friends before the show started. Towards the end they drew us all in to the performance, to help the monkeys defeat the dastardly Twits. As my daughter declared in the car on the way home,
“We were watching The Twits, and we were in The Twits!”
Like Curve Leicester and the Rose Theatre’s other recent Roald Dahl adaptation, The Witches, this performance managed to condense the narrative of the tale into 90 minutes (with an interval), without losing the book’s spirit. The special effects in The Twits weren’t as impressive as those in The Witches, but it was less scary, and more….well, more disgusting.
And what seven year-old could fail to enjoy watching grown-up actors being foul and filthy on stage?
The Twits is at the Rose Theatre, Kingston Upon Thames until Sunday 16 Apil. Tickets range from £13-£25. The performance is recommended for those over 6.
Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best theatres for kids in London.