Horrible Histories - Barmy Britain (4 stars)

This article is from 2012

Horrible Histories - Barmy Britain

Photo: Ian Tilton

Gruesomely entertaining alternative history lesson

The history of these islands is littered with enough corpses to fill a month’s worth of Fringe shows, so hats off to Birmingham Stage Company for managing to pack so much blood and gore into a bare hour.

Terry Deary’s deliciously gruesome book series translates impeccably for the stage, thanks to funny and engaging performances from the versatile Alison Fitzjohn and Neal Foster, some wacky costumes and a liberal helping of silly sound effects.

Each historical chapter takes the form of a clever parody of some touchstone of contemporary popular culture. So, the Roman Invasion is recreated in the form of a cookery programme complete with rotten fish guts and roast dormouse, while the Viking Invasion is presented as an early version of Relocation Relocation Relocation.

Interactive singalongs such as ‘Henry VIII was a Big Fat Man’ keep the pace moving, with much humour derived from the contrast between Fitzjohn’s short stature and powerful singing voice and nimble moves. And what kind of a Grinch would you have to be to resist a show with so much imaginary poo, blood and vomit splattering everywhere?

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 26 Aug (not 20), noon, £10.50–£11.50 (£9.50–£10.50).

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain

  • Directed by: Neal Foster
  • Written by: Neal Foster, Terry Deary

The hit book and TV series is brought to the stage in a quirky exploration of the history of Britain. Based on the children's books by Terry Deary.

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