Horrible pair deserve raucous reception

Last updated 11:01 24/08/2011
Daniel Allen and Hazel Twissell
DIRTY TRICKS: Mr and Mrs Twit (Daniel Allen and Hazel Twissell) at the Theatre Royal ahead of their appearance in Roald Dahl classic The Twits.

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There can't be many pieces of theatre where the audience is encouraged to boo, hiss and throw things at the cast.

But the producer of The Twits, at the Theatre Royal from this Friday, says he will be disappointed if Mr and Mrs Twit don't get more than 100 boos.

People won't be punished if they throw things either, says Hugh Neill, as long as the projectiles are "squishy".

The Twits, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, is Theatre Alive's first collaboration with Body in Space and Neill says he's "delighted" with how it has turned out.

He says the show's director, Lisa Norriss from Body in Space, is "very talented and very clever".

Norriss says it's a thrill to tackle something a little less sombre than the company's other recent performances – like Macbeth and the company's last show, Terra Nova, about Robert Falcon Scott's doomed Antarctic expedition.

"We have been doing so many tragedies, so it's really energising to work with a script like this."

Norriss is a fan of Roald Dahl's books and remembers watching The Witches on television as a girl.

She says some of the content in The Twits is "quite dark stuff – but it comes across in a really funny way", adding that the show will appeal to "everyone's inner child".

Neill agrees that anyone young at heart will enjoy the show, but advises against bringing children younger than five along.

"Mr and Mrs Twit are not very nice people, but they get their comeuppance," he says.

The show features a cast of 15, including professional storyteller Roger Sanders as the play's narrator-musician.

Mr Twit is played by Norriss' partner Daniel Allen, who says he channels the character by imagining a cross between Fagin from Oliver Twist and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Mr Twit enjoys harming and tricking his wife and Allen says it's fun playing a bad guy and having "permission to be disliked".

Hazel Twissell plays Mrs Twit and says making children horrified is "just a giggle". Her nine-year-old daughter, Xan, is a big Roald Dahl fan and is in the play as well as her husband.

  • The Twits, directed by Lisa Norriss and presented by Theatre Alive and Body in Space, starts at the Theatre Royal on Friday at 6.30pm and continues until September 3. Details are available at theatreroyal.co.nz.

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