Not too long ago on Christmas Eve, we were at the Northern Stage watching an adaption of James & the Giant Peach. Tonight we were here for another Roald Dahl classic ,The Twits. Produced by the Curve and Rose Theatre Kingston, The Twits, is showing to sell-out audiences at Northern Stage from Tuesday 21st until Saturday 25th March. So popular was the response that an extra performance was added.
Priced at £20 an adult and £16 for a child ticket we had high hopes it would be a great family show. Booking the 6pm performance meant the pressure was on to beat the clock. A bit of a manic dash to make it into Newcastle city centre from pesky work and after school clubs ensued but we really wanted to make the effort. The Twits was one of my favourite books when I was a child and the girls love it too. Who can resist a genius line like this?
“Mr. Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And, now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever.”
― Roald Dahl,
The Twits are Trailer Trash
Loved by generations since it’s publication in 1980, The Twits, is one of Dahl’s shorter works of fiction but one of the funniest. Mr and Mrs Twit are a gross pair of slobs. Dahl goes into great description about just how vile the couple which is well translated onto the stage. A shipping container transforms into their filthy trailer, which is marked with unidentifiable stains up the wall. Mr Twit (Robert Pickavance) is seen and heard doing his business on the toilet. This toilet is up there with the one from Trainspotting. Grim in the extreme. Mrs Twit (Jo Mousley) isn’t much better. Dressed head to toe in unflattering leopardskin lycra going into great detail about her verucas and dandruff. What a pair!
The Twits Play Pranks
A dish for dinner is al dente Earthworm spaghetti and Mr Twit keeps a constant snack buffet of his favourite sardines and cornflakes in his beard for times when hunger strikes. Urgh!! I have read on another review that Roald Dahl was acutely pogonophobic (a fear of the unshaven) and in this description is certainly shows:
“So what I want to know is this. How often do all these hairy-faced men wash their faces? It is only once a week, like us, on Sunday nights? And do they shampoo it? Do they use a hair-dryer? Do they rub hair-tonic in to stop their faces from going bald? Do they go to a barber to have their hairy faces cut and trimmed or do they do it themselves in front of the bathroom mirror with nail-scissors?”
― Roald Dahl,
Mr and Mrs Twit are not the picture of married bliss and can’t stand each other. Their hobbies mainly involve winding each other up in a series of vindictive pranks. At one point Mrs Twit is tricked into believing she is shrinking. The remedy for this is to be stretched using balloons which make her float off!
The Twits Capture Muggle Wumps
One money making scheme which unites them is capture the monkey-like Muggle Wumps from the rainforest. The story gets very bizarre at this point. Mr Twit starts to trains the Muggle Wumps to perform upside down at their circus. This is a great opportunity for the cast to show off their acrobatics. But surely we couldn’t let them spend their lives in captivity? The muggle wumps and Roly Poly Bird (high up on stilts) need the audience’s help to trick Mr and Mrs Twit so they get their come uppance in the end! I don’t want to give away any spoilers at this point but it may involve a pair of shoes. But safe to say a happy-ish ending ensues.
The Twits at the Northern Stage
The cast of the Twits is made up of 7 talented individuals who all sing, dance, play instruments and take multiple parts. The play is well paced, energetic, and they make the most of what is a short book. One observation is that the play is quite short beginning just after 6 and finishing at 7.40 (including a 20 minute interval). The majority of the audience were kids under 10 I understand why they need to keep it punchy.
It is probably a little unfair to The Twits that James & the Giant Peach was still so fresh in our minds. James left a big impression on us which i’m not sure that the Twits did. Alan commented that the story was bizarre, but I think that is just what Roald Dahl intended. If you are heading along this week let us know what you think of The Twits! Enjoy the fun, laughs and gross out humour along the way!