Think your knowledge of history is patchy and weak? Don’t know a Tudor from a York or a Stuart – look no further, Horrible Histories – Terrible Tudors will put you right in the most rib-tickling fashion. Suitable for all ages (don’t let the schoolchildren have all the fun) the Birmingham Stage Company has been producing Horrible Histories live stage shows since 2005 and making the best job of it.
Written by Terry Deary and Neal Foster, two highly accomplished actors, Emma Swan and Jack Ballard take multiple roles spanning the period between all the Henries, especially the eighth one as his was the most scandalous and terrifying reign, through to the end of evil Elizabeth the first in all her bejewelled and painted glory. The show is only an hour long and how they cram in all the relevant events is a marvel – Bloody Mary, the Spanish Armada, Henry VIII and his catalogue of wives coming to a nasty end, it’s all there along with the truths and half truths that have been handed down through the ages.
You take a wonderful romp through one of the bloodies periods of British history, It’s terrifically entertaining and at one and the same time unconsciously educational. Whilst laughing uncontrollably I learned all sorts of dates and nuggets of hearsay that my gowned and stuffy history teacher failed to pass on. My stand-out moment was the introduction of William Shakespeare and his will.i.am song, Jack Ballard was a cracker at this, together with his evil and leery King of Spain a triumph of caricature over reality. Emma Swan was at her most imperious as evil Elizabeth, resplendent in stomacher and ruffs, and slipped in and out of the many characters with astonishing speed and ease sweeping the young audience along with her. Part panto, part Monty Python, peppered with bum jokes, this is too good to keep just for the kids – we loved it, and we went on our own!
Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath BA1 1ET