IS Jessica Harlond-Kenny a twit for choosing a puppet show over a holiday in Ireland?
Well actually, yes, she is.
The seasoned puppeteer plays a series of characters in a razztwizzling adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Twits, including the cantankerous Mrs Twit.
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s world premier of the jumpswiffling comedy, centered around two miserable old grunions, is a high-energy mix of storytelling and physical theatre.
“It was one of my favourites as a child and the reason I auditioned,” Harlond-Kenny says.
“I saw the flyer and said, ‘Its me—it’s my show.’
“As a kid I loved it because it was a bit gross and naughty. The idea you could be mean and naughty and grotty is really captured by Dahl.”
Mr and Mrs Twit haven’t had a good thought or done a kind thing in years.
They like nothing more than dreaming up terrible tricks to play on each other. (my favourite bit, revisiting the book as an adult, was Mrs Twit feeding her mean hubby worms as spaghetti).
The Twits is a classic Dahl comedy, in which horrible bullies get their just desserts, director Michael Barlow says.
“They are terrible people but very funny characters and it’s so satisfying seeing Muggle-Wump the Monkey and the Roly-Poly Bird outwit them.”
“Dahl has a special gift for making fun of adults who treat children unfairly and our heroes can only win by breaking the rules and playing a few tricks of their own.”
The irreverent story is an outlet for kids struggling to find their way in the world, Harlond-Kenny says.
“Kids need to see these things; they need to talk about them.
“It’s important in our times…There are a few Twits governing some countries.”
The Spare Parts show doesn’t “belittle” kids or patronise them, and the subtlety of a joke about building a wall to keep people out of the Twits garden isn’t lost on young audiences, Harlond-Kenny says.
“Kids knew it was Donald Trump and the Mexican wall.”
The Spare Parts show is co-created by WA actor Humphrey Bower (Tales from Outer Suburbia).
Mt Twit is played by Spare Parts newbie Geordie Crawley, comedian Sam Longley is assistant director and designs are by Leon Hendroff.
The Twits is unsentimental and grotesque, but a lot of fun, and on at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle until January 27.
For times and tickets go to sppt.asn.au or call 9335 5044.
By JENNY D’ANGER