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The Twits; A fantasy world for adults and children


Looking for the ideal Xmas family outing? Go and see The Twits – a splendid recreation of the Roald Dahl story.

John Daly-Peoples
Tue, 06 Dec 2011

The Twits by Roald Dahl, adapted by David Wood
Auckland Theatre Company
Q Theatre
Until December 18th

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Looking for the ideal Xmas family outing? Go and see The Twits – a splendid recreation of the Roald Dahl story.

It’s the tale of the grotesque Mr and Mrs Twit. They have become a bit tired of playing silly tricks on one another, so Mr Twit decides to capture and train the Muggle-Wumps, a family of monkeys.

The monkeys, who are kept in a cage, are rescued by a flock of birds after they have warned them away from their favourite tree which has been covered in glue by Mr. Twit.

With the help of the Roly-Poly Bird, they manage to trick the Twits into believing the world has turned upside-down. The audience helps in the trick by pretending to be upside-down by putting their shoes on their outstretched hands.

This is a play for adults as much as children. It revisits many of their own childhood memories of Dahl’s books as well giving them a musical medley which includes Saturday Night Fever, a few takes on Andrew Lloyd Webber and a slice of Strauss (2001: A Space Odyssey). There is also much slapstick comedy, which the children certainly enjoy but the adults will see as a homage to Benny Hill.

The dialogue is filled with double entendres (“I haven’t been this stretched since my wedding night”) and scatological humour, as well as some jokes on recent political events, although the adults seemed to find those funnier than the children.

My six-year-old companion Ben, however, raised a number of ethical, moral and philosophical issues. Why should all the children in the audience be told to tell the Twits a lie when asked a particular question? When a dead seagull falls from the ceiling, where did it actually come from and why was it dead on arrival? If all that remains of the Twits at the end is a bundle of clothes, where did they go and as they were not all that bad, did they deserve whatever happened to them?

Most of these can’t be answered all that easily - although had Ben followed the actions on stage closely enough, he would have realised it was the combined effect of Mr Twit belching and Mrs Twit farting that had rendered the seagull comatose.

Te Radar and David Fane as Mr and Mrs Twit are suitably fantastic and weird with their antics and rapid-fire humour.

Anna Julienne is bright as a button as the Roly-Poly Bird (owing a lot to Kath Day Knight) while Andrew Grainger’s Narrator does a fine job at holding the whole thing together - and he is pretty good at his acrobatics.

Kip Chapman, Harry McNaughton, Sia Trokenheim and Sarah Graham gave brilliant performances as the slightly batty and idiotic Muggle-Wump family.

The only flaw in the show is that a lot of the Australia references have been left in, where they could easily have been replaced with New Zealand equivalents.

John Daly-Peoples
Tue, 06 Dec 2011
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The Twits; A fantasy world for adults and children
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