7 December to 8 January 2017
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
December is always a hectic month so it was nice to have the opportunity to take our sons to the theatre to see Horrible Christmas. Written by Terry Deary the play is performed by the Birmingham Stage Company and is currently showing at The Lowry Theatre until the 8th January. We took our two sons, aged 11 and 15 to see the show and they both really enjoyed it as did my husband who has got to the age where he likes nothing better than booing the baddies, laughing at fart jokes and singing along with the children to the turkey song!
Christmas is under threat from the evil Sydney Claus, ably assisted by his most famous reindeer Rudolph. We follow them as they travel through history in an effort to get Christmas cancelled for ever. What they don’t reckon on is the determination of Wendy Watson (Rebecca Livermore), who overheard their plans and teams up with super sleuth Shirley Holmes (Lauryn Redding) to save Christmas.
My sons have always enjoyed reading the Horrible Histories books and watching the TV shows so they were both really looking forward to the play. I was expecting a light-hearted and maybe educational look at the Christmas tradition but was pleasantly surprised when the show included so many of the elements of a traditional Christmas pantomime. There was plenty of humour, appealing to both children and adults and including the all-important toilet humour that I have come to expect from Horrible Histories. On top of this were plenty of catchy songs and all in all it was a winning formula that had everyone laughing from start to finish.
During the course of the play we meet Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol, a rapping Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, Henry VIII and many more important characters from the history books. The play is full of interesting facts presented in a fun and exciting way. Whilst we know the basic historical facts we never know quite which way the story is going to take us, making it all the more entertaining.
The main four actors remain as the same character throughout wearing the same costume but the other four switch costumes and roles almost continuously. Chris Gunter is particularly well cast as Sydney Claus and Neal Foster is outstanding playing the main historical characters, we all loved his rap when he was playing Charles II and the boys especially liked him as St Nicholas in Turkey.
The time travel takes place on Sydney’s special time travelling scooter and there are plenty of lights and special effects, these were very bright but worked well and our youngest son said he really liked that bit.
We really enjoyed the play and it made a refreshing change from a traditional pantomime. We will certainly be looking out for other Horrible History productions as we never stopped laughing all night!
Tickets cost from £16.50 to £25.50 (includes booking fee).
Horrible Christmas is at The Lowry in Manchester until 8 January 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000