Horrible Histories Barmy Britain at The Lowry Review


HHBBUKTourHorrible Histories
Barmy Britain
The Lowry, Manchester

29 April to 3 May 2014


Reviewed by Debbie Tasker

Horrible Histories Live On Stage arrived at The Lowry Theatre in Manchester last night (29 April) and myself, mum and grandchildren were luckily enough to be part of the audience.

I love the award-winning TV series and also the books (there are over 80) on the subject of Horrible Histories. There is no doubt that Terry Deary has hit the nail on the head with his fun, informative and educational writing. This time the stage show is Barmy Britain and once again I learnt much more than I ever did in history lessons at school!

Performed by The Birmingham Stage Company and directed by Neal Foster with a cast of four very energetic actors Alison Fitzjohn, Gary Wilson, Laura Dalgleish and Benedict Martin we are taken on a journey through history spanning over a 1,000 years.

There is so much packed into this two hour show that it is difficult to pick out the best bits but here are a few Queen Victoria break dancing, a brilliant sketch based on The Only Way Is Essex, two well know quiz shows Take Me Out and Who Wants to be a Millionaire that both involved a lot of audience participation and a very amusing Location, Location, Location. All of course used in a way as to make history seem more entertainment than a lesson.

The backdrops are computer generated and are used to enhance each scene. They are colourful and clear and do help with the story telling. There are a lot of costume changes all done quickly and with little disruption to the show. Not many props are used or set changes but you don’t notice or need them as everybody is too enthralled in the performers.

I found the first half a little too fast paced and I had trouble on a couple of occasions keeping up with where we were in history now. The second act was better. In the interval the audience were given 3d glasses and as soon as you put them on then you began to see what effects were in store for the last hour. There were lots of giggles, screams and gasps (and that was just from me) as skulls bats, birds, chickens and flying debris amongst other things come at you! There is also rain and one very poignant point where poppies are falling and there is a minute of silence to remember the 16 million who lost their lives in the First World War.

The cast work their socks off throughout as the Romans, Vikings, Queen Boadicea and Henry VIII amongst other figures of history are explored and proven to be barmy.

The end song brings us up to date with Britain today and yes we are still Barmy Britain!!

A great night of educational fun theatre full of humour, gore and facts. We all loved it.

Abby aged 11
I really enjoyed the show again. I knew most of what was performed from watching the TV show (I think that’s a positive thing?) but there were some new things I learnt. Queen Victoria was hilarious.

Kian aged 9
I loved the 3d when everything keeps hitting you in the face (he would!) and singing the songs and joining in.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £11.50 to £19 (includes £2 booking fee).

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 | Box Office 0843 208 6000


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