The Pumphouse, Takapuna, Auckland
21/04/2008 - 04/05/2008
Favourite Roald Dahl children’s story The Twits is on stage in Auckland for the April/May school holidays
Tim Bray Productions presents The Twits at The PumpHouse, Takapuna from Saturday 21 April to Sunday 4 May.
The Twits follows the adventures of Mr and Mrs Twit, the Roly-Poly bird and the Mugglewump monkeys and "it’s a mad, silly, funny physical show with lots of audience interaction."
Tim adds that the three cast members who play the Mugglewump Monkeys spent time at the zoo learning real monkey behaviour. This is the third production of Tim Bray’s The Twits, but "it’s been 15 years since we last staged it, so we’re performing it for a whole new audience!"
The Twits is the second in a series of professional children’s theatre productions presented by Tim Bray Productions in 2008. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat features in the July school holidays; Pippi Longstocking will be performed in central Auckland, Howick and Papakura in July, September and October, and a new production, Margaret Mahy’s The Dragon of an Ordinary Family will be staged in the September/October school holidays and December features the return of the ever-popular The Santa Claus Show.
The Twits is at The PumpHouse, Killarney Park, Takapuna, Auckland from 19 April to 3 May at 10.30am and 12.30pm with a Gala Opening on Saturday 19 April at 7.00pm. No shows on Sundays or on Anzac Day.
To book, phone (09) 489-8360 or online at www.pumphouse.co.nz.
Tim Bray Productions is administered by The Operating Theatre Trust, a registered charitable trust.
Mr Twit - Brad Hills
Mrs Twit - Denise Snoad
Mr Muggle-Wump - Tama Jarman
Mrs Muggle-Wump - Te Kaea Beri
Little Muggle-Wump - Natasya Yusoff
Roly Poly Bird - Adam Burrell
Narrator / Musician - Ludwig Treviranus
NZ Sign Language Interpreter (selected shows): Kelly Hodgins
Set Design: Sean Coyle
Costume Design: Chantelle Gerrard / Sara Kolijn
Lighting Design: Sean Coyle
Roly-Poly Choreography: Denise Snoad
Muggle-Wump Makeup Design: Natasya Yusoff
Stage Manager: Alana Tisdall
Lighting Operator: Michael Craven / Geordie McCallum
Ushers: Elana McNeill / Bryce Hatton
Set Builder: Frank Checketts
Costume Construction: Chantelle Gerrard / Sara Kolijn
Scenic Painting: Sean Coyle
Bird Puppets: Bryce Hatton
Props: Bryce Hatton, Chantelle Gerrard, Alana Tisdall
Lighting Crew: Michael Craven / Alana Tisdall
Illustration: James Stewart
Website Design: James Stewart
Postcard Design: Office Logic
Advertising Design: Stefania Samecki-Capper
Logo Design: Insight Creative Ltd
Teachers' Resource Guide: Rosemary Tisdall, Getting Kids into Books
Schools Publicity: Ken and Margaret Bray
Publicist: Sally Woodfield—SWPR
Trust Accountant: Rachel Humphrey—KiwiConnect
Alison Reid, David Martin, Jo Clark, Michael Murphy
PumpHouse Box Office: Gill Saker
For The Operating Theatre Trust:
Production Manager: Bryce Hatton
Producer: Tim Bray
Engaging old-school family theatre
Review by Nik Smythe 24th Apr 2008
These holidays Tim Bray’s stalwart family theatre company tackles a gratuitous classic from that post modern hero of children’s literature, Roald Dahl. Mr and Mrs Twit are a detestable couple of grumpy sadistic morons best described as ‘disgusting’. They hate everything, particularly anything happy or nice, and especially each other.
Musician / Narrator Ludwig Treviranus (if that’s his given name he was clearly destined for a life in the finer forms of musicianship from the start) lazily twiddles out some snappy electro-geek jazz before the lights go down. The musical style combined with the blue plaid print suit and nerdy glasses strongly suggest a Herbie Hancock influence.
Brad Hills as Mr Twit is gruff and rude enough to get the point, but really could have been a lot more yucky than he was. I thought an older character actor might have reveled more in the role’s possibilities, and wondered if a younger man was cast for purposes of stunt work. However, a couple of moments notwithstanding even the physical potential isn’t heavily exploited as far as the title characters are concerned.
Denise Snoad’s Mrs Twit is a bit more gross but the twits as I know them are fairly unfathomably horrible. Nevertheless, as I said, we get the point and some of the kiddies are quite tiny so perhaps the levels are consciously tempered. Anyway, by and by after playing a number of mean-spirited pranks upon each other, Mr Twit has the seemingly random inspiration to start a monkey circus. So it’s off to Africa to capture themselves a troupe, and how they can afford such an excursion is apparently an irrelevant mystery.
The monkey family known as the Mugglewumps carry much energy, being monkeys, and have the full attention and support of the young crowd, being the heroes of the story. Tama Jarman as Dad and Te Kaea Beri as Mum are wholesome, dedicated parents and clever, resourceful little monkeys to boot. Their endearing offspring Little Mugglewump, played by Natasya Yusoff, is loveably irascible, the character undoubtedly most related to by the children.
Flamboyant favourite Roly Poly Bird (Adam Burrell) has a costume and a personality that seems like it might be based on a forecasted Priscilla craze, despite the disparate demographs: ostentatious, preening and, for want of another word being more to the point, camp. As such it’s one of the star turns of the piece, and contrasts well with the nicely underplayed presence of Elana McNeill, puppeteer for the minor but essential bird characters.
Costumiers Chantelle Gerrard and Sarah Kolijn have adorned the players with due aplomb. Mr and Mrs Twit resemble brain-fried vagrants. The Mugglewumps resemble monkeys as one would hope, thanks also in part to the facial makeup design of Li’l Wump Yusoff. My son loved Roly Poly Bird, while I’m torn between his and Treviranus’ outfits for a personal favourite.
Tim Bray has directed another engaging piece of old-school family theatre (complete with live music and an actual curtain!). Plenty of clever jokes, stupid jokes, audience participation games and sing-along numbers make for a fulfilling hour’s theatre. Plus you get to meet the characters as you exit.
Anyone not already familiar with at least a handful of Roald Dahl’s works, if such a being even exists, get thee to a library! The Twits is in some ways the consummate Dahl tale, combining the unpredictable anarchy of his most famous works (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach etc) with the outrageous gross-out elements of his greatly celebrated Revolting Rhymes collections. Not to give too much away, the ending is softer and altogether more positive than that of the novelette. If you have read it you may agree it’s probably just as well, for reasons already mentioned.
Hot tip: some kids came dressed as one of the Twits or the Roly Poly Bird and scored free posters and spades of kudos for doing so.
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