The Twits

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

28/09/2007 - 20/10/2007

Production Details

By Roald Dahl, adapted by David Wood
Directed by Laura Cooney

Have there ever been two more wretched people than Mr. and Mrs. Twit? Sloppy and smelly, they don’t wash and they don’t clean, but they do play nasty tricks on each other. They’re not just horrible, they’re extra-specially horrible. Mr. Twit’s beard is host to spinach, ketchup and minced chicken livers- in fact every bit of moldy food that misses his mouth. Mrs. Twit has a glass eye which she likes to pop in her husband’s beer, boasting, I’ve got eyes everywhere so you’d better be careful’.

The poor Muggle-Wump monkeys, stuck in a cage in the Twits weedy, grubby garden have been watching them play tricks on each other for years. Now Mr. Muggle-Wump and the magic Roly-Poly bird have an idea for a hair-raising trick of their own that threatens to turn the world of Mr. and Mrs. Twit upside down.

Sticky, stinky and vile- and that’s just the audience! Book now for a fun-filled family production which promises to be disgustingly good.

‘Cheers galore!’ The New York Times
‘Flamboyant characters and hilarious slapstick humour’ BBC Oxford Stage Review

Marisiale Tunoka
Glen Hancox
Mark Neilson
Danny Still
Jodie Bate
Anna Nicholas
Sara Georgie Tunoka

Theatre , Family ,

Brash and noisy family fun is filled with silliness

Review by Barbara Frame 01st Oct 2007

What a dreadful old pair the Twits are. Smelly and snotty, they look awful, they sound awful, and their food fights are appalling. When they tire of tormenting each other, they take to tormenting some harmless monkeys they’ve cruelly transported from Africa, and then they think up a horrible plot to make a pie out of local songbirds.

It’s time, as any fair-minded child would agree, for them to be taught a lesson — for things to be turned upside down, perhaps even literally.

The Twits, adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel by David Wood, and directed by Laura Cooney, opened at the Fortune on Friday night. A packed audience which included a fair proportion of children watched the loathsome, messy proceedings with enthusiasm.

Glen Hancox as Mr Twit and Mark Neilson as Mrs Twit throw themselves into their parts with abandon; Danny Still, Jodie Bate, and Anna Nicholas as the Muggle Wumps are just about the most endearing monkeys you’ve ever seen; Sara Georgie Tunoka is a glamorous Roly-Poly Bird; and Siale Tunoka is the narrator who keeps everything together.

Brash and noisy, The Twits provides non-stop silliness and unpretentious family fun. If you go, wear shoes you can take off easily (you’ll find out why) and watch out for gobs of airborne nastiness.


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Utterly gross but such unqualified fun

Review by Terry MacTavish 01st Oct 2007

Spring is sprung, the school holidays are upon us, and NZ blossoms joyfully with a crowd, a host of golden kids’ plays! The Fortune deserves a bouquet for instituting an annual Roald Dahl production – much brighter and fresher than the regular Christmas pantos, which in comparison have the wilted look of last season’s poinsettia.
The Twits suits a younger age-group than last year’s Dahl, the wonderful but frequently terrifying Witches. The plot is simpler, the special effects less special, and those in danger are a step removed, being animals not children. Established Dahl dramatist, David Wood, has set the anarchic action in a circus ring, and we feel safe with a spangled but cuddly Ringmaster/Narrator (Marisiale Tunoka) keeping things under control.

But the excellent cast, which includes some of the same actors, is every bit as vibrant and fantastic. The energy never flags, with a cracking pace set for slickly-executed circus stunts and vicious slapstick to upbeat music from Star Wars to The Matrix to Mission Impossible.

The Twits themselves are the smelliest, most repulsive couple imaginable and it is a pleasure to loathe them. Their grotty caravan (trailer trash meets scarfie flat) is a perfect setting for the disgusting personal habits which so delight the young audience. Ghastly Mr Twit, brought revoltingly to life by Glen Hancox, has a beard full of trapped decaying food scraps which are dragged out and tossed to the audience.

Even the beard however, is all but upstaged by the huge rubbery red lips of Mrs Twit, hideously ugly because she has nothing but ugly ideas. The amazingly versatile Mark Neilson is of course gorgeously disgusting in this plum part.

The gruesome twosome are happy only when playing horrible tricks on each other, of the frog-in-the-bed or worms-in-the-spaghetti variety. Worst of all, they capture a delightful family of monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps, and keep them hanging upside down in a cage, dressed degradingly in circus gear. Danny Still, Jodie Bate, and Anna Nicholas make up this cutely agile monkey trio.

But Dahl always sees to it that the vile are suitably punished, and with the help of the Roly-Poly Bird (the lovely and ever-graceful Sara Georgie Tunoka) a plan is hatched: to turn the Twits’ world upside down: sweet revenge! But they’ll need our help…   

Director Laura Cooney happily exploits the opportunities for interaction with the audience, who love being cast as the friends of the animals ("Goody-goods!" sneers Mr Twit), and having their advice eagerly sought and followed. And we are certainly a big help. Not only do we save the birds by performing a lively ‘It’s Sticky’ rap, but we totally fool the silly old Twits into thinking they are the ones upside down, by putting our shoes on our hands and stretching up our arms, so we look exactly like a forest of waving legs – and the white-haired grannies are just as excited as their mokopuna.

"Children are much more vulgar than grownups," said Dahl, "they have a coarser sense of humour". I think he misjudges us – it’s all utterly gross, yes, but such unqualified fun that grownups might be tempted to swear off serious theatre permanently.

My quick interval poll of ecstatic punters under 125cm elicited the following:
Yurgen: "I liked it best when Danny did the smelly thing – what is it? – fart!"
Oscar: "The bit where Mr Twit threw stuff out of his beard!"
Leon: "The thunder when the monkeys were in the jungle."
And Casper liked the birds but was too shy to explain why.

On exit however, despite having been treated to a very polished encore of the entire play as dumbshow, re-run at remarkable speed to frenetic circus music, the kids were unanimous: the absolute highlight was definitely being squirted with water from The Twits’ new guns. So, hey actors, forget the years starving at drama school and touring the provinces, and ignore the critics – all you really need to be a star is a water-pistol!
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