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Critics castigate Court's Twits

Enda Walsh has adapted Roald Dahl's book for the stage at the Royal Court; but the results get a distinctly mixed reaction


Enda Walsh's "mischievous" adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Twits opened at the Royal Court last night. Directed by John Tiffany, the cast includes Jason Watkins and Monica Dolan and it runs until 31 May. Here's what some of the critics thought:

Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage


"a crushingly unfunny vaudeville that is nothing like the essence of Dahl and nothing much like the authentic Enda Walsh, either."

"The mystery in this play is, really, why did anyone bother?"

"Walsh has 'mischievously adapted' Dahl but he can't translate the grunginess and sheer liberating filth of the prose into action"

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"seldom at this flagship venue has a project looked so mistimed and unwarranted."

"Irishman Walsh makes a barely digestible meal of the source material."

"the drag-factor of the encumbering conceit is considerable."

"Who'd have thought Dahl could be made so dull?"

Natasha Tripney, The Stage


"The Royal Court's mischievous adaption does not feel like a conventional page-to-stage translation. It feels a bit like an Enda Walsh play has been detonated within the novel."

"John Tiffany's production is visually stunning."

"for all its strange playfulness, it feels pretty bloated and plodding in places and it's really hard to know quite who it's being pitched at."

Aleks Sierz, The Arts Desk


"Enda Walsh adapts Dahl's The Twits with a vigour and theatrical imagination all his very own."

"The style is wonderfully grotesque, absurd and sinister"

"as well as being sharply satirical, beautifully bizarre and extravagantly entertaining, The Twits is also unashamedly romantic."

Michael Billington, Guardian


"The result, while vivaciously staged and clearly appealing to a young audience, often feels a touch tortuous, as if Dahl's taste for bizarre fantasy has been overlaid by Walsh's own gothic imagination."

"The problem is that it makes for a convoluted narrative framework and for long periods reduces the Twits to mere lookers-on. The piece is at its best when it opts for headily irrelevant absurdity."

"It is all very jolly, if a bit strenuous, but the best is saved till last"

Paul Taylor, Independent


"It's as if The Mousetrap in Hamlet were to have been devised by the dastardly Claudius and presented as a staggered trilogy of plays."

"John Tiffany's production works hard to keep the distinctions crisp and comic but you're still often left with doubts about who this show is being aimed at."

"the proceedings feel padded-out and lacking in the requisite energy and reprehensible glee."

The Twits runs at the Royal Court until 31 May