Saturday, 9 February 2013

Horrible Histories Live on Stage

I was a huge fan of Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories books when I was a child – a great way to learn about history in a gory, gruesome way you will never forget! The recent television series’ have made the brand more popular than ever and the live shows sell-out all over the country. I was very excited to have the latest live tour – Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians – booked in at my theatre and was intrigued to see how the live action and 3D Bogglevision would work together.

 As we were waiting in the auditorium for the show to begin, there is a screen displaying the logo and a creepy soundtrack of drips, creaks and bangs before the cast make their entrance. The Terrible Tudors sees a band of players led by Dr Dee telling the more sinister stories of the Tudors, with a teacher – Miss Tree – filling in with the facts. The cast are full of energy and enthusiasm and clearly enjoying their roles which include pretending to be sick an awful lot! The children in the audience were loving the gory tales and joining in with lots of audience participation. The cast made the most of their Richard III sketch, just days after the skeleton in a Leicester car park was confirmed as the lost monarch’s body (‘Let’s bury him in a car park. Nobody will ever find him there!’) Most of the first act was of course dedicated to the most famous Tudor of all – Henry VIII and his six wives. We learn about this infamous king in a series of politically incorrect songs – ‘Henry VII was a big fat man, ate all he could from the frying pan’ was a chorus which was stuck in my head for days after! The famous ‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died…’ rhyme is also given musical treatment as an easy way to remember the fate of his wives. Henry’s romance with Anne Boleyn is portrayed in more detail with the King singing One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful to woo her, before finally deciding on Greensleeves much to the delight of the children in the audience! The children also have the chance to be the jury on some sinister court cases, helping to decide whether the defendants should have a gory punishment – each one was found guilty as a result of our blood-thirsty audience!

Henry VII woos Anne Boleyn

During the interval, we are given the task of finding 3D ‘boggle goggles’ in the theatre to be ready for the 3D heavy second half. Be prepared to have a variety of objects racing towards you, from stones and bugs to the blood of poor Mary Queen of Scots during her unfortunate execution (this story truly is horrible).  The depiction of the Spanish Armada is particularly clever, with the feeling that we are on a rocking boat, while cannon balls and splintered wood come hurtling at us. The 3D genuinely made me duck and blink and the children in the audience reacted with equal screaming and laughing. These shows are a great way for children to remember important parts of history and learn in a fun way. The stories in the show will definitely be repeated at home and to friends and the adults watching had a great time too. Go see it!

Horrible Histories Live On Stage trailer:


You can find a list of tour dates here

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