The Twits – Albany Theatre, Coventry

Writer: David Wood from the book by Roald Dahl

Reviewer: Nicole Craft

Roald Dahl has been a family favourite for generations, and nobody grosses us out quite like The Twits do. Already present on stage as the audience take their seats, Mr and Mrs Twit evoke many a groan and an ‘ewwww’ from children and adults alike as they bite each other’s toenails and eat food from each other’s facial hair.

As the show gets going properly we are introduced to our narrators, an ensemble of finely tuned individuals who end up oozing more personality than the main characters themselves. Getting everybody going with a song, they grab everyone’s attention and tell us a little bit more about the protagonists and their personalities. Narrators become monkeys part way through the show, shining just as much in their alternate rôles and, although probably not the intention, become the highlight of the show with their songs and arrays of facial expressions.

The Twits themselves sadly just never quite impress and attention wanders when they are the focal point of the action. Mr Twit, although managing to portray his character’s disgusting nature well enough (albeit with the aid of messy beard and dirty clothes), doesn’t manage to sell his character as being particularly nasty or stupid; and Mrs Twit – although again looking the part with hair and costume – slips into the background against the rest of the cast with her performance needing to be much stronger. The pair’s rapport also leaves a lot to be desired with slapstick feeling delayed and laboured and interactions forced. Audience participation helps things along in parts, but even this has to be forcefully prompted by the narrators and is half-hearted overall.

The target audience seems pleased enough with this production despite the fidgeting and conversations, although the level of enthusiasm expected from such a show isn’t present. The puppetry, despite the fabulous efforts of the puppeteer who could sell anything with her charisma, lacks extravagance and for such a popular story everything is far too simple and expectations just aren’t met. With Dahl’s stories being so fabulously descriptive and engaging, if you’re going to do it, you have to do it better than this.

Reviewed on 26 October 2018  | Image: Contributed

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One Comment

  1. I took my children to watch and they had an absolute ball – Twits were charismatic and full of energy which easily matched the narrators. Very surprised by your review as it was evident from children and parents alike how much everyone enjoyed the show as we left the theatre.

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