Review by Wendy Samantha
What a buzz! The Playhouse at The Arts Centre Melbourne is filled with families. There’s chatter and electric energy, the red curtains are lit with a small platform awaiting the start of the story. String lights hang above, a green shade on either side of the stage contrasting with the rosy centre and lots of interesting shadows to spark the imagination.
“I want to catch it!” my little girl cries as everything dims and suddenly there’s an incredibly bright starlight rotating out into the audience. A ringmaster type character appears and the letters T, W, I, T, S circle the stage in fluorescent shades. If you’ve seen Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, the opening musical number is reminiscent of that type of intrigue and strange. You know something cruel is about to take place, evil and deliciously hilarious. There’s an echo of laughter and the rotating stage introduces us to our 3 narrators who not only assist in telling the story, but also double as the Muggle-Wump monkeys, the Roly-Poly bird and other assortment of objects and bits and pieces. They are fabulous, fun and highly entertaining.
Maverick the Magnificent charms us as smoke puffs out of his hat, Claudette the contortionist adds flavour and flexibility, and Rex the strongest strongman has the most perfect comedic timing. It’s absolutely “the show where everyone is welcome!” and there’s something for all ages here.
Mr Twit enters and he’s as foul and smelly as you could imagine. He delights the children with toilet paper, toilet sounds and obviously much toilet humour which actually includes several belly laughing well lit shadow scenes of him using the toilet! The audience was all smiles, then enter Mrs Twit with her one brow and sneaky traits yelling “go catch a pokemon you waste of space!”. Together they make for the foulest, funniest pair especially during their little dance break!
“Ooh they’re nasty!” cried out one woman in the audience as she laughed and hugged the little boy next to her. What a treat for families.
This classic tale of The Twits, by Roald Dahl is truly brought to life in this little show. Directions allow for perfect timing, entertainment, snappy jokes and wickedly enjoyable humour for both adults and children. The story follows what is only too familiar, Mr and Mrs Twit playing spiteful tricks on each other. Our narrators excite the audience with Round 1 - the eyeball, Round 2 - the frog in the sheets, Round 3 - worm spaghetti and Round 4 - the shrinks! Mixed in are scenes from everyday popular TV or Youtube shorts as we see Cooking with Heather (Mrs Twit) and DIY with Dennis (Mr Twit). There’s fabulous effects such as when Mrs Twit floats into the air with a bundle of balloons, the use of feathers and fans for the birds, and the most playful and imaginative lighting set up.
Music and lighting are crucial to this wonderfully packaged production. String lights above the audience change colour and pop on and off creating a terrifically exciting effect for all. Torches provoke creativity, spotlights assist the humour, smoke effects add the spectacular as do flitters of sparks and the perfectly timed sound effects and pompous music. There’s colours and streams, and little bangs and puffs of smoke, fabulously bright costumes and clever props. Everything has been planned, well thought out, and the show is delivered with precision.
The Twits won’t make you want to eat your lunch, but it will definitely give you a good laugh and you will walk out of the theatre incredibly happy. It’s like eating a big bowl of mum’s most delicious spaghetti (that’s not squiggly worms!) and feeling full and all warm and fuzzy. Despite there being bird pie, there are no animals harmed in this production and there are truly absolutely ‘birdiful’ moments of hilarity throughout.
A shake & stir theatre co production
Adapted for the stage by shake & stir theatre co
Image Credit: David Fell