Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales, Lyric Hammersmith, London
Thursday 27 January 2011
Theatre is on a roll with Roald at the moment. The RSC's Matilda has just received a gong at the Critics' Circle Awards, the presenter fulsomely declaring it to be the best new British musical that he had witnessed in 27 years of reviewing. But this new stage version of some of the author's aimed-at-adults Tales of the Unexpected at the Lyric Hammersmith strikes me as more than a couple of shudders short of the full Dahl. I have only two problems with it. I hate the stories themselves and I find the theatrical adaptation of them largely spurious in the chills department.
There's a yarn here about a joyless, control-freak intellectual who winds up – to his oppressed spouse's ultimate deep satisfaction – reduced to a brain and an eye in a bowl, powerless to do anything but cerebrate and observe liberated wifey do everything that he had repressed and abominated in her. Clever, huh? Mmm, yes, but you also feel that these stories, in their glee at ingenious revenge and familial failure, might as well have been written by that disembodied freak. Tricked with melodramatic trapping (huge wayward clock, dry-ice-infected rail network) this is a succession of heartless jeux d'esprit slickly served up by Jeremy Dyson (of The League of Gentlemen) and director Polly Findlay in a manner abjectly intent on duplicating the Lyric's West End success with Ghost Stories.
The adaptors present the proceedings with an ingeniously involuted double-framework of commuter storytelling and a suffocating Fifties atmosphere of strangulated gentility. But who gives a basic damn about landladies with long-term taxidermic ambitions or gambling Jamaican expats or public-school fags wreaking misdirected revenge on their bullies? The eventual pay-offs are weak; the narrative components are as mean as they are, in translatable terms, meaningless. Hello Dahl-y and goodbye.
To 26 February (0871 221 1729)
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
JK Rowling announces Harry Potter's son is starting at Hogwarts
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Common words you're probably misusing: From 'enormity' to 'ultimately', 'gambit' to 'fortuitous'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up