Spare Parts Puppet Theatre stage Roald Dahl’s The Twits


Geordie Crawley and Jessica Harlond-Kenny. Picture: Jon Hewson
Geordie Crawley and Jessica Harlond-Kenny. Picture: Jon Hewson

WITH great work comes great responsibility, as Spare Parts Puppet Theatre director and co-creator of The Twits Michael Barlow discovered while adapting the Roald Dahl classic for stage with co-creator Humphrey Bower and assistant director Sam Longley.

“Like many people, I’m a big fan of Roald Dahl for lots of reasons,” Barlow said.

“He does wonderful things with language and making fun of stupid, adult attitudes. I think he really celebrates something about children and their ability to see when adults are being twittish; he cuts through that nonsense.

“There was something so silly and direct about the title and when I read it, I thought this was something we could make a show with.”

Barlow said underneath all the silliness was a message about what happened to people when they were selfish or bullied others.

“One of the well-known lines from the book is about when you have good thoughts, you can never be ugly and on the flipside, if you have ugly thoughts, that’s what will show on your face,” he said.

“That’s what makes you a twit or a bad person.”

Barlow said the production followed the story of Mr and Mrs Twit, the two most awful people who have ever lived.

“They’re so terrible to each other and everyone around them,” he said,

“In his bad luck, Muggle-Wump the Monkey has fallen into their clutches and they’re keeping him prisoner against his will and training him to perform the world’s first great upside-down monkey circus.

“He’s stuck and has no way of escaping the control of the Twits until the Roly-Poly Bird arrives and with some inspiration from Roly-Poly, Muggle-Wump sets on turning the tables on Mr and Mrs Twit. He’s setting the world to right.”

The pure and simple show is almost entirely dependent on performers Geordie Crawley and Jessica Harlond-Kenny, who do everything from sound effects to moving between multiple puppets.

“Working with Jess and Geordie has been the biggest highlight because they leave it all on the stage,” Barlow said.

“They leave no performance stone unturned and ultimately that’s who the audiences come to see. When you have collaborators who enhance the work and improve on ideas or find things you wouldn’t come to without them, you just feel grateful for them every day.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: The Twits

Where: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1 Short Street, Fremantle

When: January 8 to 27

Tickets: www.sppt.asn.au