Gore galore is central to the appeal of Terry Deary's massively popular tongue-in-cheek kids' series, which leaves no cobblestone unturned in its efforts to disinter disgusting historical factoids for a school-age audience.
Amputation, stinky fish guts and hanging feature heavily in this stage-spinoff of Deary's books and the kiddy-Bafta-winning TV series. It's putrid panto time as two talented presenters take us from the Roman invasion to drone warfare with sing-alongs along the way.
The target audience laps it up. But I'd have preferred more facts and less flippancy: British history is a spotted, violent tale, but I'm not sure Henry VIII, despite his serial faults as husband, is really Hitler's moral equivalent. By the time we get to the Victorians, surely there's something slightly more edifying than a notorious baby-murdering old lady to dredge up for seven-year-old consumption?
Birmingham Stage Company's hour-long show funnels each horrid epoch through spoof TV formats borrowed from the kind of crap that some seven-year-olds' parents mystifyingly choose to spend their evenings with instead of Eric Hobsbawm or Michel Foucault. It's heartily enjoyable and loudly appreciated.
Actors Lauryn Redding and Benedict Martin rise above the thinner, less tuneful moments and positively revel in fun set pieces like the revolting Roman cookery show. By the end, Britain seems not so much 'barmy' as barbarous, bloodthirsty and stark raving bonkers.
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Average User Rating
3.3 / 5
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Was disappointed, as was my 10 year old son. Nothing like as good as the TV show, nowhere near as funny... a two person act that tries but ultimately fails to deliver any of the expected features of the TV series. The actors were adequate, and they certainly engaged the 6-8 year olds present, but any child above this age group will be left wanting. Where was "Stupid Deaths" or any of the songs from the show? For £20 a ticket there are plenty of other things to do in the West End that would be time better spent. I laughed just once, but I nodded off twice. Not good really.
I took 2 teenagers and 8 year old to see this. We knew wasn't going to be T.V cast. Could have stayed at home for that. The two actors were fantastic really seamless performance. Got my teenagers laughing and joining in songs Great fun. Don't travel to London just to see this but definitely include it in your itinerary.
Agree the show is short and not value for money. Also, the CBBC TV show is far wittier in its parodies - this is far inferior material. Admittedly my sons enjoyed it, but even they were surprised it ended so abruptly after an hour. We have also seen the Terrible Tudors show, which is longer and much better value for money, though again doesn't measure up to the TV show. Also agree that the baby-murdering Victorian feels like scraping the barrel when there was so much else could've been covered from Victorian era. Plus, one more warning: we went to see the Terrible Tudors as well, and although it was better, some parts were word-for-word the same material & songs as in Barmy Britain - you'd think the writer could stump up unique material for each show. If you're wavering between the two, go for Terrible Tudors.
Saw this yesterday with my two kids and it was great fun! The two actors were very funny and worked really hard. I knew it had nothing to do with the tv series and was based on the books which does dictate to what the show involves so feel that some points the time out review made about the material was naiev. This show has made us want to catch the touring shows, The Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians! Love Horrible Histories!
Great fun for kids who like a chuckle!! My two 8 year old boys roared with laughter...as did I . It is only one hour long so no interval...worth going to if you live in London...
saw this yesterday. only lasts one hr. great entertainment but if you are going expecting to see things you recognise from tv show then you will be disappointed. doubt i would have travelled in from midlands had i known.