Review: Horrible Histories - Terrible Tudors, Bristol Hippodrome
If you have children of a certain age, you'll no doubt have read at least one of the bestselling Horrible Histories books by Terry Deary. Packed full of foul facts, his 50 Horrible Histories titles have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide over the past 25 years.
And now it's Bristol's turn to find out all about the Terrible Tudors and the Awful Egyptians, as Horrible Histories Live On Stage comes to the Hippodrome from July 24th-27th. I attended the Terrible Tudors show on Wednesday afternoon, and the audience was packed full of children eagerly awaiting their journey through the yuckiest moments in British history.
Starting with the defeat of Richard III by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth Field, and taking us all the way through the House of Tudor up to the death of Elizabeth I, this was the most fun history lesson I've ever attended. The three enthusiastic cast members immediately engaged the young audience with clever use of props and some slapstick comedy, as they reenacted the bloodiest historical moments of the 16th century. There were also some very catchy songs, including a tune all about Henry VIII and the fate of his six wives. You'll be singing it for a while afterwards!
But it was the use of some amazing 3D effects called Bogglevision which really brought the stories cleverly to life after the interval. We donned our 'safety goggles' (3D glasses) and there were squeals of excitement all around the auditorium as we survived being hit by fireworks, dodged spatters of blood, and defeated the Spanish Armada as it fired cannonballs into the audience. This was a nice feature that I've never seen at a children's theatre show before and it certainly added an extra dimension to keep everyone engaged during the second half.
Of course the children in the audience lapped up all the tales of torture, beheadings, and being burnt at the stake. Younger children might find some of the material a little bit too gruesome, and there was one quite spooky 3D effect which might be too much for very sensitive children. But overall, this was a really entertaining afternoon, and as my children recounted the facts from the show on the way home, it was clear that it had been an educational one too. If only all history was taught like this!
AWFUL EGYPTIANS is also playing at Bristol Hippodrome this week. Meet the fascinating Pharaohs, gasp at the power of the pyramids and discover the foul facts of death and decay with the meanest mummies in Egypt. Are you ready to rumble with Ramesses the Great? Dare you enter through the Gates of the Afterlife? It’s the history of Egypt with the nasty bits left in! You can find out more and purchase tickets for both shows here.
Horrible Histories Live on Stage is directed by Neal Foster, design is by Jackie Trousdale, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Nick Sagar and music by Matthew Scott. Birmingham Stage Company is also currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and is one of the world’s top theatre companies for families. The company’s acclaimed productions include David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie and Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine. Birmingham Stage has been producing Horrible Histories Live on Stage since 2005, including the record-breaking West End series of Barmy Britain.
Disclaimer: A complimentary family ticket was provided by Bristol Hippodrome in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Photos provided by Birmingham Stage Company.