Adapted for the stage by David Wood. From the book by Roald Dahl.
Commissioned by the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, THE TWITS was first performed there in 1999. The production was revived for Christmas 1999/2000 at the University of Warwick Arts Centre, and then toured the UK, including Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Other productions include the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.
Set in a circus ring, which offers great opportunities for a spectacular production, this adaptation brings Dahl’s ideas to life and has the confidence to add something new. Bored with playing silly tricks on one another, the grotesque, satisfyingly revolting couple, Mr & Mrs Twit, turn their attentions to capturing and training a family of monkeys, the Muggle-wumps, for a circus act.
The monkey’s cruel incarceration in a cage is avenged when the Birds, led by the Roly-Poly Bird, trick the Twits into believing the world has turned up-side-down. The audience helps in the trick by pretending to be up-side-down (they put their shoes on their outstretched hands).
David Wood writes : Roald Dahl’s book is much loved by children. Many of the episodes are so “gross” that to play them for real would probably not be as effective as playing them in a stylised up-front, presentational manner. The fact that the book tells us that Mr & Mrs Twit once trained monkeys in a circus suggested to me the idea of setting the whole play within a circus ring. This means that certain key episodes can be played almost as circus acts.
I used a Narrator, who acts as a kind of circus Ring Master. Kathi Leahy’s original production was wonderfully physical, funny and inventive.
The original production employed a cast of six actors, plus a team of twelve children, who played optional monkeys and also operated the puppet birds. They undoubtedly enhanced the production, but are probably not essential.
“Roald Dahl created some truly revolting characters in his time, but surely few can compare with the noxiousness of Mr & Mrs Twit. This adaptation by David Wood was easily as gruesomely grotesque as Dahl could ever have intended. The show is a marvellous mix of singing, dancing, theatre, slapstick and audience participation.”
South Wales Argos
“Wood’s script delivers the dark side of Dahl’s novel, and without any preaching the children absorb the sense of the monkey’s suffering and sadness – finally released in glorious participation of shouting, chanting and shoe-waving, as the audience ‘helps’ the monkeys to escape.”
“…The Twits is an uplifting story through its themes of conservation, animal rights and injustice…”
South Wales Echo
“Fantastic tale for young and old … last night’s audience was captivated by the lovable Muggle-Wumps, trapped in Africa by Mr Twit and brought to England as circus performers. Children and grown-ups alike were happy to partake in one of the best audience participation events I have ever seen.”
“If JK Rowling wants to ensure her Harry Potter books live long in the memory, she could worse than insist they be given the David Wood treatment. Wood is the man responsible for transferring many of the characters of Roald Dahl, the greatest ever children’s author in my opinion, from page to stage. Not content with converting Dahl classics THE BFG and THE WITCHES into three dimensions, the playwright has now brilliantly turned his attention to THE TWITS.”
Wolverhampton Express and Star
“David Wood’s adaptation of the popular tale works wonderfully using circus skills and slapsticks to recreate even the most bizarre scenes from the book. It’s a perfect blend of horror and humour for the over-fives as Mr & Mrs Twit play unspeakable tricks on each other… but whilst there are plenty of laughs, Dahl’s tale is a moral one, which champions the freedom of the animals.”
The play is published by Samuel French Ltd., a Concord Theatricals Company. First Class Professional & Foreign Rights : Casarotto Ramsay Ltd. UK Repertory Rights : Casarotto Ramsay Ltd. UK Amateur Rights : Samuel French Ltd., a Concord Theatricals Company. US Stock and Amateur Rights : Dramatic Publishing Company.