Press Review: Horrible Histories at the Alexandra Theatre

We all want to meet people from history. The trouble is everyone is dead! So it’s time to prepare yourselves for Horrible Histories live on stage with this special production of Barmy Britain!

I was unable to attend, but my friend Anna was more than happy to oblige on my behalf!

Directed by Neal Foster with music by Matthew Scott, Horrible Histories is the stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed franchise. The show is unusual in that it stars just two performers – Jack Ballard as Rex and Morgan Philpott as Roger. Would this take anything away from the performance? 

As an avid Horrible Histories fan, I went into the show unsure of what to expect. From a young age I was captivated by the books and even today as an adult I happily watch and chuckle at the award winning TV programme. So when I was given the opportunity to watch this show, I jumped at the chance. However, as I sat down and saw it was a two man show, my heart sank. But, little did I know the fun that awaited me.

The show was informative (historical), silly (fart jokes) and so much fun that both adults and children alike were giggling in their seats. 

The first half of the show introduced us to Barmy Britain going right back to the roman invasion and showed us in true HH fashion the story of Boudicca, Queen of the Icene, through song. It then took us on a historical tour through time, looking the some of the lesser known, often smelly and gruesome facts of our fair land, including how they dealt with the plague in Pembrokeshire, how Queen Anne Boleyn had an extra finger and how Burke and Hare weren’t quite the grave diggers we may have been taught about at school.

The second half was also ‘Part 3rd’ and brought another level of brilliance to the show, which from the ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahhs’ in the audience, I could tell was a smashing touch. Note: some younger children may find parts of it a little bit scary as things come flying towards you.

While it was only a two man show, the acting, props, technical scenery and costume changes were so brilliantly executed, by the end you had completely forgotten about the lack of cast and were fully invested into each character portrayed on stage. What makes Horrible Histories truly great is how it captivates its audience, from the youngest ones who laugh at the potty jokes to the older ones who get the more complex jokes. HH uses a variety of ways to teach us through song parodies, easy catchy tunes that encourages audience participation, spoof tv programmes like ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and  ‘Undercover Boss’. The accents and characters are so good you would struggle to tell the actor and the celebrity apart. 

Whether you have children or not, love history or not but enjoy being entertained and are looking for a light hearted night out , then this is the show for you. While the theatre might be filled with young faces, adults will certainly not feel out of place. Go with an open mind, watch it with eyes of wonder and prepare yourself for a truly spectacular evening of fun, jokes and laughter.

Horrible Histories is on stage at The Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 4th December. Purchase your tickets here.