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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

The Twits

Zenith Youth Theatre

Genre: Children's Theatre, Family, Theatre

Venue: The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall


Low Down

This is Roald Dahl’s classic told with little by way of radical diversion. It is the story of The Twits, the smelly and terrible couple who kidnap the monkeys and try to capture the birds for bird pie. Their escape, courtesy of the Roly Poly bird is achieved when the Twits think they are upside down.


Roald Dahl is always likely to gather a crowd and this morning is no different.  A full house is here to see the young members of this company perform. Playing children’s theatre to a group of children is a very tough gig and this young company are filled with enough enthusiasm for their parts to pull it off.

As it is a Youth Theatre there are some variable performances, but you get the impression that the ensemble nature of their approach makes that an acceptable part of the learning process for everyone. The audience did, in the main, manage to maintain their interest and the choice of very visual costumes with bright scarves and the multi-coloured Roly Poly Bird helped. But to be fair, I have seen a lot of children’s theatre fare a heck of a lot worse with seasoned performers onstage.

It helps that the beginning sequence introduces the circus theme and we do get to see all the monkeys before we get into the story. This works well.

Directorially there are difficulties in such a tight space, but Zenith are old hands. There are a few nice wee touches that keep things fluid. The monkeys could do, however, with more of a choreographed feel to them as a collective. At times it felt a little like they were left to their own devices and could have done with stronger direction. Overall, they could also have done with speaking up a bit more. Our Ring Mistress and Roly Poly Bird were very aware of their stage presence and managed to keep it balanced. Similarly, too, our Twits had a good level of input into maintaining the pace and attention of heir critical audience.

Vocally there are some dips which can be noticeable, but our young crowd appeared to be less concerned than I was.

What really worked well was the confidence of working the audience, especially when the Roly Poly Bird had to work with such a complex song. Having so many adults in the room who were as willing to have a good time as our performers certainly helped but the young audience also seemed suitably enthused. It gave both the cast and the audience a better relationship at just the right time as there were a couple of young charges just behind me who were getting a little restless. That sorted them out.

That is the major plus here, that this young cast have the ability to, not just through their principals, make a connection with a well worn and well known children’s story. A few wee tweaks there and some more coordinated work there to address some of the dips and this would be improved but the platform is already strong.