Revolting Rhymes
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 12th Aug 2011
  • |
  • ★★★★

There’s basically no-one who doesn’t like Roald Dahl – he’s been a cornerstone of kids’ literature for 50 years and with good reason. I love his books, my parents love his books and, if I have any say in it, my kids will love them too. And one of the best places to get a whiff of his crazy, joyful style is in his poetry books, Dirty Beasts and Revolting Rhymes.The second of these is especially good for the Fringe as it gives you not one, not two or three, but four separate tales in an hour. These shortened-down versions of classic fairytales, juiced-up with the dark little twists that are Dahl’s trademark, are some of the best examples of his gruesome, manic energy so telling them properly takes a special kind of performer.Luckily, the Revolting Rhymes crew are just that. As you might expect from official storytellers of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Will and Matt have an amazing feel for his writing and work together superbly to perform with the energy it deserves. With the minimum of props and the maximum of enthusiasm they bring Dahl’s gleeful world to life. From the moment they hit the stage the audience is smiling and the tempo stays skyhigh for the whole hour. Whether it’s Matt’s virtuoso Big Bad Wolf or Will’s wonderfully sparkly Fairy Godmother, the energy these boys put into their performances is a thing of joy. And while the performances must have been tightly rehearsed to be as polished as they are, every moment feels spontaneous and as if anything could happen.And thanks to the duo’s emphasis on audience participation, that’s exactly what does happen. Parents and children alike are involved in the action, meaning that Will and Matt have to be on their toes constantly to keep up with the barrage of tiny people making weird suggestions. As admirable as this interactivity is, though, it’s also the source of the only slow parts of the show. For the third of the four stories today, The Mad Monk, Will and Matt depart from their standard material and opt for an improvised piece, designed to get the audience fully involved. While this did lead to some wonderful moments, (someone’s Dad being dragged around stage making the noise of a cheese-aeroplane-magic carpet), by trying to work in every single one of the audience’s suggestions the stories became a little too nonsensical and the segment overlong.Overall though, brilliant, funny, rude and raucous, this is what Fringe children’s theatre should be. You’ll enjoy it, your kids will enjoy it and you’ll both be talking about it for weeks to come. Dahl-ightful.

Reviews by Tom King

Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

★★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter

★★★★

The Blurb

The Roald Dahl Museum's delumptious storytellers return for an interactive performance of Roald Dahl's wildest and most outrageous stories from Revolting Rhymes with their own twizzfiggling twist. Come prepared to be dahl-ighted!