Reviewed by Lindsay Burton
From the Horrible Henries to the end of Evil Elizabeth, we heard the legend (and the lies!) about the torturing Tudors. We discovered the terrible fate of Henry’s headless wives and his punch up with the Pope. We met the Bloody Mary and saw Ed fall dead in his bed. We also survived the Spanish Armada as it sailed into the audience!
Since penning his first volume of gored-up histories, Deary’s books have sold millions worldwide. The series that revels in all things gross and gory has also made way for an award-winning children’s TV series – which led my two boys and I, who also happen to love all things gross and gory, to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham with the promise of rotten brains, gruesome executions and so much more! In a fun, entertaining yet educational romp, the Birmingham Stage Company’s extremely talented trio of Simon Nock (Dr Dee) Lisa Allen (Dross) and Izaak Cainer (Drab) brought to life the Tudor dynasty’s reign – from Henry VII’s victory over Richard III all the way to the death of Elizabeth I – through numerous skits, slapstick and songs directed predominantly at schoolchildren.
With a dash of facts and a dollop of gruesome details of dysentery, you find yourself a winning recipe of success. And so the audience was led through the comical version of a hauntingly yet catchy song (you know those that get stuck in your mind and NEVER leave you) whose only words were that familiar catechism for the fate of Henry VIII’s six wives: “divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived”… with actions and everything; then a delightful demonstration of popular Tudor medicine (this is where the rotten brains come in not to mention the beheaded criminal’s skull for a bout of nausea… need I say more?); and, to squeals of delighted horror, a macabre retelling of the fumbled beheading of Mary Queen of Scots.
Then we got to add 3D glasses in the second half, and voilà; a Tudor Cinema Club came to life! With giant creepy crawlies, fireworks and explosions, the Terrible Tudors became very real to my sons who found all the grossness incredibly funny. I, on the other hand, felt slightly queasy. All in all, Horrible Histories – The Terrible Tudors is a must-see.
Tickets cost from £10 to £21 (booking fees may apply).
Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 26 February to 2 March 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND