Even though Roald Dahl died in 1990 his work continues to be enduring for children of all ages. Marcus Romer, the director of this new version of Dahl's classic The Twits, has added many new elements into the mix. Some work wonderfully but others do jar, if only slightly.
The Twits remain a selfish couple who are constantly playing tricks on each other. But they now resemble the Osbournes in their mannerisms and rock star personas. You may be cringing here, but this really does work as it provides rich humour for adults. David Woods has adapted this production and with Romer has created a completely different take on the classic tale. The look, for example is very Mad Max in terms of the Twits' home. In contrast Ali Allen's Africa is a Lion King-esque world, both are absolutely stunning as they draw the audience into this warped vision.
The beastly pair kidnaps Mr and Mrs Muggle-Wump, two monkeys from Africa, and gain great pleasure in making them perform tricks. But these monkeys are wiser than the terrible Twits and are soon getting a little help from their friends; the audience. It is worth the effort involved as you end up fooling the terrible twosome.
The Roly Poly bird also helps the monkeys but not quite as seamlessly as the audience. For some strange reason the bird says lines like "Innit though!" This resembles a poor attempt to get a Catherine Tate joke into the show and really does irritate after the fifth time.
The cast are all excellent and revel in being in a children's production, which is a cut above a typical pantomime. Jesse Inman and Nicky Goldie have a whale of a time as Dahl's perfectly awful pair dealing with hecklers with ease.
Naomi Cortes and Michael Lambourne evoke sympathy as the Muggle-Wumps and are not too sickly-sweet. Zoe Lambert is superb as the narrator and reminded me of Jane Horrocks. Ebony Feare has the hardest job as her Roly-Poly bird has some strange lines which seem out of synch with the rest of production. But she acquits herself well and flies above the audience elegantly.
The children at the matinee I attended loved this show. It is selling incredibly well and with good reason, it is fiendishly funny and a feast for the eyes.
- Glenn Meads