Reviews Edinburgh Published 16 August 2015

The Terrible Tale of the Twiddly Widdlies

Pleasance Courtyard ⋄ 6th-21st August 2015

Revolting rhymes.

Tom Wicker

Once, in the Courtyard of Pleasance, a gruesome two-some struck out alone, disgorged from the fanged maw of the fearsome Beast as it slumbered, dreaming of awaking and making a killing on a distant fringe.

The Courtyard wheeled and whirled and people smiled and ate hotdogs and drank themselves silly. But warnings rang out in all the dark corners willy-nilly – ‘beware the creatures who sharpen their teeth on the festival folk. They will make stars of your corpses and laugh. Don’t go it for broke.’

But the two boys (for boys they were) were brave and intrepid. Clem Garritty and Oliver Jones cared not a jot for the cackling cries of the whole disillusioned lot. They wanted to seek and they loved to experiment. From the bowels of the Beast, they’d pushed up against walls, just to see if they’d tumble. Pigs had been kicked and horror thoroughly rumbled.

With love and affection, they’d digested the bloodied remains of howling beasts and leagues of gentlemen, and spat out new monsters with smiles across their faces. They’d captured and animated the shuffling people from Towns Where Nothing Happens until their lives grew to gigantic proportion. Laughter tolled from out of the darkness like a bell rung by a madman.

So Ollie and Clem put on black-tie, wrapped themselves in bandages and hoped for a crowd. They whispered new stories – beware yet again of the pigs, little children – and bowed. And their words were good, a litter of grotesques more nimble and spry than the hairy wolf who’d last come at their cry.

Radio presenters with Debrett’s in their voices and boorish best buddies who slice off their faces – their latest creations took their places. But the people watching grew restless. Why weren’t they moving? The boys they remembered had dance and sung. But, here, they were standing, their backs to the wall.

And up reared an idea, mighty and terrible, that the boys had bitten off more than they could chew; that the flickering lights that pinned them in place, projecting a new face on their face, was a trap. It was fiendishly tricky and overly complicated, with moustaches floating all over the map. The boys had tripped with ambition and Lagging Gallows had been waiting to snap.

And a lamenting moan ran through the Courtyard of Pleasance, because its inhabitants loved Clem and Ollie and welcomed the Beast – they were so sad that, this time, their imagination hadn’t found proper release. And one shabby man, who’d still laughed at their tales, closed his book and looked up to the sky. He put out some stars. ‘Until next time,’ he thought. And sighed.


Tom Wicker

Tom is a freelance writer and editor, based in London. He has acted in the past, but the stage is undoubtedly better off without him on it. As well as regularly contributing to Exeunt and, he reviews for Time Out, has reviewed Broadway productions for The Telegraph. He has also written for The Guardian and the online world affairs magazine openDemocracy.

The Terrible Tale of the Twiddly Widdlies Show Info

Written by Clem Garritty and Ollie Jones

Cast includes Clem Garritty and Ollie Jones



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