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Roald Dahl’s Dinner At The Twits

First Published 15 September 2016, Last Updated 30 May 2018

What’s it all about?

Mr and Mrs Twit, the infamously unpleasant couple created by Roald Dahl, are celebrating 40 years of miserable marriage. And you’re invited to the dinner party, courtesy of theatre company Les Enfants Terribles and culinary curators Bompas and Parr. Canapes and cocktails are offered in the Ghastly Garden, before a beastly banquet is served in the windowless house, including claws, insects and rats’ skulls. There the dastardly duo, and their gang of performing monkeys, will subject you to gruesome games and terrible tricks in their fearfully frightening floor show.

Who’s in it?

Lizzy Dive and Chis Barlow are splendiferous as the spiteful spouses. Quite literally larger than life (thanks to the fantastic costume and makeup – the wigs added impressive height), they stomp around the set, roaring and cackling at one another, their monkeys and the audience in turn.

The small team of monkeys, acting as maitre d’ and the chorus, also do a stellar job, managing to be simultaneously charming and chilling in their tattered clown suits and disfiguring masks.

What should I look out for?

Les Enfants Terribles have really pulled out all the stops in bringing this most repulsive of environments to life. Designer Samuel Wyer has created an incredible indoor landscape, replete with impressive detail harking back to the book. There is real bark underfoot in the garden, as well as the infamous Great Dead Tree, covered with sticky, black glue, adorned with unsuspecting birds and the clothes left behind by the children who managed to get away. Despite the dead plants, toxic-looking drums of glue, and soundtrack of scrawching birds, Wyer manages to create an eerie beauty, using soft, misty lighting and strings of bulbs in the trees, so that you feel caught in a dreamlike, fantastical twilight.

The canapes served in the Ghastly Garden are where culinary wizards Bompas and Parr really get to flex their gastronomic muscles, offering guests a menu replete with repellent refreshment. Help yourself to bloodied chicken hearts (still beating), sticky clusters of bird feed and a mass of undulating, writhing worms (toilet paper conveniently provided for grubby fingers). The lack of cutlery and the fact that you are forced to hunt for the hors d’oeuvres (don’t miss the gluey soup hidden in the shed) adds an extra, multisensory layer to the event, so that you experience food in a completely new and unusual way.

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In a nutshell?

A splendiferous soirée courtesy of two horrigust, hirsute hosts.

Will I like it?

Les Enfants Terribles have already proved their mettle in creating immersive theatre (Alice’s Adventures Underground earned them an Olivier nomination in 2016) and Dinner At The Twits sure to be another success. The Vaults is transformed into a dark and distinctly creepy fictional world, and, while there is plenty of time to socialise with your fellow diners, it is hard to shake off the feeling that you are trapped in one of the Twits’ horrible tricks.

This is the first Roald Dahl story adapted for adults only and with good reason; black humour abounds and the production does not shy away from the tale’s macabre elements, with one or two nasty surprises in store. And the squeamish will certainly not relish the existence of mealworms in their coleslaw. Still, it’s great fun and the acting is top notch throughout. For anyone still feeling queasy, it’s worth noting that the stinging nettle cocktails are excellent, so you may find the whole thing a little less frightening once you’re a tiny bit biffsquiggled.

Dinner At The Twits runs at The Vaults, Waterloo until 30 October. You can book tickets through us here

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