The Twits Turn The World Upside Down

By Stuart Black Last edited 46 months ago
The Twits Turn The World Upside Down ★★★☆☆ 3

Jason Watkins and Monica Dolan as The Twits. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

It would be churlish to complain about another deluxe stage adaptation of a Roald Dahl book. After Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, kids are now spoilt for choice when it comes to seeing the author's deliciously dark imagination brought to life in front of them.

Okay, so The Twits is a second tier tale that suffers from a slightly plodding plot, but it does have magpie pie, phony fortune telling and a cage full of melancholy Welsh monkeys.

In the centre of the practical jokes and intolerable cruelty are the wonderfully obnoxious Mr and Mrs Twit, charismatically over-played by Jason Watkins and Monica Dolan. They look exactly like they should: mad hair, buck teeth and a beard full of leftovers; and they behave as badly as you remember, Mrs Twit feeding her hubby worm spaghetti, Mr Twit contriving to convince his wife that she has the dreaded shrinks. There's more than a touch of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson in them — especially when they’re smacking each other round the head with a frying pan (great sound effect work by the way).

Oliver Llewellyn-Jenkins and Glyn Pritchard as two of the imprisoned primates. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Chloe Lamford's set design is gorgeous and the detailed costumes manage to bring Quentin Blake’s illustrations off the page intact. This is one of the best-looking shows out there at the moment and the visuals give Wes Anderson’s film of Fantastic Mr Fox a run for its money. The music by Martin Lowe is also great — though the inclusion of Christmas carols does seem a bit misplaced at this time of year.

As well produced as it is, the play does sag somewhat in the middle when the Twits switch targets from their caged chimps to a slightly boring trio of fairground folk. Similarly, Enda Walsh’s script isn’t quite as tight or as funny as you’d hope. Nevertheless, this is superior panto and a pleasantly unpleasant treat for kids big and little.

The Twits runs at the Royal Court Theatre until 31 May. Tickets £12-£35. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.

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Last Updated 21 April 2015