A blue and sunny Sunday afternoon amidst a soggy Bank Holiday drew a capacity family audience to Lytham Hall to enjoy a tour de force from Illyria.
Christopher Barlow’s huge stature and booming voice make a comic and perfect contrast to Lizzy Dive’s abbreviated height and squeaky tones. They are particularly impressive at doing what The Twits do best, being horrible to each other. And the more horrible they were, the more the children loved it.
Alastair Chisholm narrates and interprets the action as a knowing and genial ringmaster and Thomas Heard, as the Roly-Poly bird, grabs his opportunity to involve the audience as he makes everyone, from the newborn to great grandparents, hold their shoes in the air, upside down.
A well-designed set with three stages adds to the energy of the action and the spectacular coup which launched Mrs Twit up a tree, complete with a cluster of balloons and red bloomers, drew gasps of delighted applause from an always enthusiastic audience.
The gymnastic and tumbling skills of Emma Vickery and Matthew Rothwell as the Mugglewumps are matched by their puppeteering skills and plaintive tones with the junior Muggles.
Audibility, pace, a host of clever props and, without fail, an inventive interpretation are Illyria’s hallmark, whether it’s Henry V, HMS Pinafore or, here, Roald Dahl. Children queued excitedly after the show to be photographed with the gruesome Twits – a tribute to the appeal of a very successful show.