Review – Twisted Tales, Lyric Hammersmith

Thursday 27 January 2011

One of the biggest surprises produced by the supposed horror shocker Ghost Stories has been the volume and ferocity of the vilification expressed by disappointed punters  in the comments section.

The gist of the complaints is that people feel cheated. Ghost Stories (“Just keep telling yourself it’s only a show”) makes promises it just can’t keep.

Anyway, nothing has attracted such universal derision since Andrew last stepped out in a new summer shirt.

A year on and the Lyric Hammersmith in conjunction with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse are at it again with Twisted Tales adapted from Roald Dahl‘s short stories by Ghost Stories writer Jeremy Dyson.

Calling them Roald Dahl’s Twisted Tales neatly sidesteps the inevitable problem which (and even our faltering memories remember this) plagued the iconic TV series Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected: there was very little in the way of unexpectedness, not least because we had been told to expect the unexpected so we were totally expecting it.

The warning this show should carry is not to come expecting Ron Grainer’s iconic theme tune or Toyah Wilcox* wiggling her thighs in silhouette like a low rent Bond girl in the opening sequence. Yes, we were disappointed about that too.

What you can expect is a deft collection of Roald Dahl stories whipped through in just 80 minutes with no interval. They are not shocking, just pleasingly twisted, darkly humorous (played much funnier than they are on the page) and you’re likely to fare better if you don’t try to predict what’s going to happen and you don’t remember them from the books or the TV series.

A cast of seven play multiple roles smartly enough and not without an agreeable helping of camp. Selina Griffiths stands out, reminding the Whingers at times of both Celia Imrie and Annette Crosbie (and we’re not complaining about that). The twist here is that it turns out she is Annette Crosbie’s daughter. Now that’s spooky.

There’s some decent tension racked up in the story about a bizarre wager which has given the Whingers an idea about their next bet with Baz Bambigboye. Next time we’ll see if he is interested in trying to take a finger or two from us.

The last story about bullying is the weakest, the most serious and the most predictable which is a bit of a shame because everything that comes before has a certain tongue-in-cheek charm to it.

As with Ghost Stories Andrew was more impressed than Phil who nonetheless  found it impossible to resist stories involving pawn shops, pickling vinegar, mink coats and the mockery of people who, like he, hail from the west country.

Polly Findlay’s direction, Naomi Wilkinson’s design and James Farncombe’s atmospheric lighting keep everything moving fluidly. Oh, and we liked the poster, again, which cleverly references the 70s Penguin paperback of Roald Dahl’s collection of short stories Kiss Kiss.

If you enjoyed Ghost Stories this if probably one for you, if you didn’t then don’t say we didn’t warn you.


*And yes we do know it wasn’t Toyah Wilcox, but a 27 year old secretary Karen Standley apparently. How did that tale get so twisted? Anyhoo, for your delectation, here it is.

And finally… we snuck in to see this on Monday because it was press night and at the Lyric they leave free pizza lying around on press nights which is one less meal to have to fork out for. We were terribly relieved that Melanie Phillips wasn’t there because she would have been very upset about being bombarded with notable homosexuals and their agendas. Stephen Fry, Derren Brown and Mark Gatiss were all hanging around, no doubt looking for children to brainwash with propaganda under the ­camouflage of ­education. Typical gays.


3 Responses to “Review – Twisted Tales, Lyric Hammersmith”

  1. amyhubmac Says:

    I’m amazed that Ghost Stories had such negative comments – it has done a roaring trade. This is a very fair review of Twisted Tales (but then yours are always fair). I loved the quaintness of the references and the gentle twists and turns and the fact that some of the ending were far kinder than whatever vivid horribleness was going through my head!

  2. Ian Shuttleworth Says:

    I think that’s the thing: Twisted Tales makes more modest promises than Ghost Stories, and so it does better at keeping them.

  3. webcowgirl Says:

    This was a more kind review than many but it’s not enthusing me – other than the running time, that is.

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