HORRIBLE HISTORIES | STAGE REVIEW
Words: RACHEL WILLIAMS
Mayhem, murder, gore and grime are the basis of a Horrible History book, and for the budding historians in the audience, the more gore the better. Terry Deary’s unique brand of storytelling engages adults and children alike as he pokes fun at myriad historical figures whilst still laying out the crucial facts. Real history is boring, or at least it would be if Miss Tree had her way.
The Birmingham Stage Company brought the Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians to the Cardiff stage this week, performing the two shows on alternating evenings and lunchtimes. I had the pleasure of catching Dr Dee’s travelling show as it enacted the Terrible Tudors.
Using a combination of song, audience interaction and traditional storytelling, the cast kept the audience captivated and wholly involved – you could hear a pin drop when the children weren’t shouting or singing along in full pantomime mode. Simon Lloyd plays Dr Dee, Phip Chamberlain is Drab, Laura Crowhurst is Dross, and Lynette Clark is Miss Tree as they banter brilliantly back-and-forth the values of Horrible Histories and the real Tudor facts whilst dabbling in some mucky medicines for good measure. The Tudors truly were a terrifying lot – Queen Mary wasn’t bloody Mary for no reason after all and Henry VII was a mean old man. A curiously catchy tune combined with dance moves accompanied the memorable demise of Henry VIII’s six Wives: “divorced, beheaded died, divorced beheaded survived”, and everyone joined in with the cast to sing along.
It is the second half when the show moves from the more traditional tactics and the audience is introduced to Bogglevision: an interactive, 3D extravaganza. Slide those glasses on and a plethora of cannon balls, blood globules, enormous creepy crawlies and Mary Queen Of Scot’s scull invades the audience. This elicits thrilled shrieks of glee from the audience – grandparents and grandchildren alike.
Terrible Tudors is a two-hour recipe of gruesome goings on that gives life to everything in Deary’s books and is guaranteed to keep everyone entertained.
Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors And Vile Victorians continues at the New Theatre, Cardiff until Sat 1 Dec.
Info: www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk / 029 2087 8889