Roald Dahl's Dinner at The Twits Review
Dahl's infamous Twits are back and serving up a revoltingly delightful evening of entertainment!
The idea behind the company known as Les Enfants Terribles' latest production is a simple yet ingenious one. I, like so many of my generation and indeed my parents' generation, grew up as a lover of all those fantastic Roald Dahl novels. It has been a joy to see some of his most popular work adapted for the stage, bringing those eccentric and marvelous characters to life. Understandably though, all these adaptations have been family-orientated... That is until now! With the blessing and co-operation of the Dahl Estate itself, Les Enfants Terribles brings us the first-ever official Roald Dahl adaptation designed specifically for adults. The result is a uniquely nostalgic theatrical dining experience, where the children can be safely left at home.
Partnered with culinary experts Bompas & Parr, the evening consists of an array of themed nibbles, main courses and cocktails. These include such delights as "Sting & Tonic" (a gin cocktail garnished with actual nettles and thistles), "Bloodied Hearts" and "Sky Rodent Goujons." No surprise that the main course comes in the form of The Twits' iconic bird pie. You can eat as little or as much as you like; needless to say this reporter definitely had his fill.
Structurally the plot revolves around a banquet to celebrate Mr. & Mrs. Twits' renewal of wedding vows, during which we are served and entertained by their upside-down monkey circus. However, all is not as it seems... Could our disgusting hosts have an alterior motive for gathering us as guests?
Be warned: Dinner at The Twits is suited to a particular crowd of people. If you are generally introverted and shy away from audience participation or talking to strangers, then this production may well be your idea of theatrical hell. At last night's performance, I found myself on a table (fittingly called "Ear Wax") with a group of colleagues on a work's night out. They were the perfect partners to share such an evening with... the other perfect partner - for better or worse - is alcohol. And there was plenty of it on offer last night. This might explain and justify the increased ticket prices for the production. The more wine and cocktails that were consumed, the more audience members loosen up and interact with the actors.
Hats off to the principal cast of Chris Barlow and Lizzy Dive as the grizzly titular hosts of the evening, as well as imprisoned "monkeys" Alice Bounce (Yollo), James Keningale (Booble) and Tom Moores (Rollo), who made the interactions seem effortless, casually dealing with whatever we as guests threw at them. Barlow and Dive are perfectly cast and thanks to the company's regular designer Samuel Wyer, their costumes are fabulously grotesque and wouldn't look out of place on any West End stage. Wyer's sets are fittingly grim, with the 'Ghastly Garden' a real scenic gem, filled with so much thought and detail and a stench that singes the nostrils.
So why not celebrate Dahl's centenary with something a little left-field of the superbly polished productions of Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Again, Dinner at The Twits won't be to everyone's taste, but for the macabrely open-minded, it's a fiendish treat for the senses!
What the Press Said...
"To call the pair larger than life would be a disservice; they are larger than everything. Dive in particular is magnificent; her Mrs Twit an insane, billowing, mangled diva. All mad staring eyes and grotty tombstone teeth, she looks like a Valkyrie who’s crawled ten miles through a bog."
Chris Bennion for The Telegraph
"No complaints about the meat on our plates – but a bit more in the production itself wouldn’t have gone amiss."
Ryan Gibley for The Guardian
"No chiddlers are allowed in a show that is clearly targeted at people who have fond memories of being deliciously disgusted by the Twits and all the revolting food references (wormy spaghetti etc) when they were little."
Paul Taylor for The Independent
"So, is it worth parting with £80 for? In a word, yes. It brings together a stunning set and engaging, often hilarious performance with two free cocktails, a three-course meal and plenty of wine. You’ll be doing well to find a theatre ticket, pre-performance meal and a couple of drinks anywhere else for much less."
Ben Norum for The Evening Standard