Dinner With The Twits Is Grim, Gruesome And Gorgeous
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London has never been short of gruesome and horrible theatre. Thankfully, Dinner With The Twits is the kind of gruesome and horrible theatre this city could do with more of.
From Les Enfants Terribles, the theatrical brains behind Alice Underground, comes a new immersive dining experience in The Vaults under Waterloo station. While other Roald Dahl characters like Willy Wonka, Matilda and the BFG have all had the Hollywood treatment, there has been less attention paid to two of Roald Dahl’s lesser-known (though no less ingenious) creations, Mr and Mrs Twit.
The unhappily-married couple may be 40 years into their misbegotten union but they are pretty much like every other couple. They eat, they drink, they squabble, they play eye-watering pranks on each other and they keep a circus of monkeys. OK, so maybe not like every other couple, but it is easy to see why they stick together – frankly, no-one else would have them.
The writers here have played fast and loose with the plot of the original Dahl story (mostly loose) but all of the tale's core concepts are there, and some have been expanded upon with devilish delight and meticulous detail. It is a promenade performance spread out over several rooms but there’s never a sense of being rushed over the 90-minute running time.
With creative caterers Bompas & Parr in the kitchen, it's not surprising that the food is highly inventive, both in terms of presentation and content. The Twits’ Garden Spritz features real nettle tips and wild strawberry vermouth while Mr Twit’s Bird Pie is a pheasant and chicken concoction garnished with a bird’s foot. Occasionally, style wins out over substance, for example with the rather slimy “Bloodied Hearts” that turn out to be cold chicken hearts in a Bloody Mary sauce. Booze is plentiful and varied, especially if cocktails are your thing.
In a move Dahl would no doubt approve of, this is distinctly not a show for children. The hilariously horrible antics and the gorgeously gruesome plot play second fiddle to the food and the set design, but there’s no denying the charming performances of Chris Barlow and Lizzy Dive as the unhappily married couple, and Alice Bounce, James Keningale and Tom Moores as the monkeys.
The most eye-opening thing here, though, is not on the menus or in the script. The tax on the door for Dinner With The Twits starts out at slightly north of eighty quid each for a standard midweek ticket and rises to £111.50 for those looking for a premium experience on Friday or Saturday. It’s not fair or correct to measure a production’s artistic merit by the price of entry (would this experience be twice as good if prices were halved?) but it’s definitely a point of note for those tempted by this unique experience.
Dinner With The Twits continues at The Vaults until 30 October. Tickets are £80-£115.50. More information can be found on the official website: www.twitsdinner.com.
Londonist attended on a complimentary press ticket.
Images: Rah Petheridge
Last Updated 22 September 2016