Welsh college of Dirty Beasts

When I was much younger than I am now, I had the books of Dirty Beasts and Revolting Rhymes, by Roald Dahl. I have a lot of sympathy for Roald Dahl as an author. He does what Enid Blyton dares not. Make stories for children (and about children) where you can say 'fart', dirty people walk around with corn flakes in their beard, fantastic things happen to children who deserve them, and nasty people get the really horrible fates they deserve. His children's stories are playful, a little grotesque, and full of excitement. Nothing of dogs called 'Timmy' or lashings of ginger beer. What ho!

Roald Dahl lived in Cardiff during his childhood and also went to the same school as me, very briefly (Llandaff Cathedral School). He enjoyed his time there rather less then I did.

This evening I sneaked into the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to see the dress rehearsal of a musicalised version of this doggerel. The British composer Martin Butler (who I've not heard of - he did a different musical version)  Brian Irvine (who I have also never heard of) took 4 of these and turned them into a one act opera which is just as playful as the poems. My little sister was in this production and it was splendid. The vocal performances are easily the best I have seen from a student group and much better than many amateur groups. Bravo!

At one point a rather large ladder fell down, but the performers didn't bat and eyelid, which made me half believe it was meant to happen. All the performers wore delightful 1950's tweedy clothes, that I was rather envious of.

Lots of people were eaten by the 'dirty beasts' during the 40 minutes. They all deserved it.

Rather sadly the performance was the only one available to the general public as this is a production which will tour around local schools. Our loss but the schools' gain.

Here is a little video of Timothy West reading The Anteater. It has one of my favourite bits of gentle British xenophobic leg-pulling. Its at the expense of Americans, of course.

"Some people in the USA,
Have trouble with the words they say...."

I won't spoil the rest.