Adapted by Jeremy Dyson
Directed by Polly Findlay
30th March - 23rd April 2011
Photograph by Alaistair Muir
Take your seats and enter a world where nothing is what it seems, where
three stiff upper-lipped English commuters’ humdrum lives are shaken
and somewhat stirred by the arrival of a rather loud, nattily dressed,
intrusive stranger with some tales to tell.
The scene is set, from the moment you sit down, as the auditorium is
dominated by a large ticking clock against a dark backdrop with swirling
smoke. Set in a 1950s train carriage, a young boy, confidently played
by Matthew Kennedy, introduces us to the three commuters and the daily
commute with a twist begins! Welcome to Roald Dahl’s world of the
sinister side of the ordinary, populated by creepy landladies, cloyingly
played by Selina Griffiths, who collect and stuff young men, adulterous
wives who get their comeuppance and a deadly bet, a Cadillac for a little
Adapted from sixteen of Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the Unexpected’,
Jeremy Dyson, of League of Gentlemen fame, has selected five for this
production. Building on last year’s hugely successful ’Ghost
Stories’, Dyson’s flair for the macabre is well represented
in his collaboration with Director Polly Findlay who adds her own take
on Dahl’s unnerving and gruesome world.
The five vignettes are linked together by the motif of the train station
or carriage, the three commuters and the omnipresent whirring hands of
the ticking clock. I thought the device worked well with each story connected
by a revolving stage which provided a smooth passage between each grotesque
finale. Clipped English vowels added to the thundering, whistling sounds
of old trains arriving and departing from an unnamed platform all contributed
to the pervading sense of cosy unreality.
Add to that a strong cast of six, who moved between different roles creating
a picture gallery of the repressed, the lonely and the brutally self reliant
who populate this strange Dahlian universe.
With the final scene we are presented with a largely autobiographical
tale, ’Galloping Foxley’, featuring Perkins in an English
public school scene which highlights the bullying that took place. Effectively
staged and gripping in it’s comic brutality it brings the evening
to a close, only to remind us that none of us are immune to the bizarre
twists of the imagination!
Sit back and enjoy the twists and clues knowingly presented in this dark
yet quietly playful adaptation of Dahl’s twisted tales.