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REVIEW: Horrible Histories, Grand Theatre

Birmingham Stage Company

Birmingham Stage Company

The thought of learning about history may normally send a shiver down your spine, but Horrible Histories is about as far removed from a boring school lesson as you can get.

The 105 minute race through the last 1,000 years of ‘Barmy Britain’ cleverly mixes important events that have shaped our land with gruesome, gory tales you really want to know.

The Birmingham Stage Company (the same team which brought the fantastic James and the Giant Peach to The Grand last year) use singalong tunes and TV references to keep children and adults captivated.

The Vikings try to find a new home on Relocation Relocation Relocation, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce are matched on Take Me Out while Guy Fawkes gets hot under the collar on Who Wants To Blow Up Parliament?

Queen Victoria’s breakdancing moves and a song about Edinburgh body snatchers Burke and Hare to the Postman Pat theme tune are hilarious.

And the generous helping of Monty Python-style humour makes it easy to absorb random historical facts which will no doubt become useful at the next pub quiz - that is if the question is anything to do with the last person to be hung at Marble Bridge (a highwayman in 1783 in case you’re wondering).

Armed with 3D specs after the interval, the computer generated backdrop comes to life with skulls swooping towards the audience and poppies falling from the sky to mark the First World War.

But what is most impressive is the whole show is delivered by just four incredibly talented actors, who are bursting with as much passion as Henry VIII had for chopping people’s heads off.

Julia Bennett

 

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