Muddy reviews: The Twits

I’m just back from seeing The Twits at the Rose Theatre in Kingston and I’ve got two things to tell you about it.

Numero uno: The Twits really are an awful pair – repulsive, disgusting and pretty ghastly. They’re not nice to each other, and they’re even worse to those around them – especially the monkey Muggle Wumps.

Numero deux: They provide brilliant comedic material for kids – and their parents. From the beer guzzling at breakfast and the brown stains on Mr Twit’s Y-fronts to Mrs Twit’s earthworm pasta and delightful leopard-print leggings, there’s a lot to make you groan about these two.

This version is pretty faithful to the original, written by that most wonderful author for children, Roald Dahl. And it’s a great length for children: the first half under an hour long, and the second barely 30 minutes. It was directed by Max Webster, who also did The Lorax at the Old Vic.

Robert Pickavance and Jo Mousley play the horrid Mr and Mrs Twit with relish and conviction, battering each other with their walking sticks and playing other practical jokes. They were wonderfully authentic and farcical. The make-up department should also get a nod here because Jo’s blotchy red face and blackened teeth were truly a sight to behold.

Jack Horner’s Roly-Poly Bird is impressive, strutting around on sparkling stilts, high-kicking and belting out the tunes, all the while wearing a long brightly feathered jacket to rival Joseph’s dreamcoat.

But it was the family of monkey Muggle Wumps – doubling as narrators – who win the hearts of the audience. This talented bunch of actors and musicians dazzle with their acrobatics, singing and musical talents, switching effortlessly between instruments, song and backflips.

There’s a nod to Dahl’s other novels, with a mention of James, he of the Giant Peach, as well as Sophie and the BFG. The audience is called upon to help the Muggle Wumps defeat Mr and Mrs Twit, but also becomes the target when some pump-action water pistols are bought out. Consider that your warning!!

I also loved the shipping container caravan that was home to the Twits. It sits proudly on stage graffitied on its exterior with ‘The Twits’. The mildew-blackened interior is revealed when Mr Twit literally blows the walls off while going about his (toileting) business.

There is absolutely nothing about this production that is not to like – but the thing you’ll enjoy the most is the horridness of it all. It’s just the ticket for entertaining the kids these Easter hols, and most suited to kids aged 5-11.

The Twits is on until Sun 16 April at the Rose Theatre, 24-26 High Street, Kingston, KT1 1HL. Tel: 020 8174 0090.  rosetheatrekingston.org

 

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