Robert Tanitch reviews Horrible Histories at Garrick Theatre, London WC2
Horrible Histories is celebrating its 25th anniversary with more of the best of Barmy Britain.
Terry Deary and Neal Foster have written a script which is deliberately childish and silly but at the same time it is also surprisingly informative.
Did you know that in Tudor times you couldn’t wear gold unless you were king and you couldn’t wear purple unless you were a Duke?
How many phrases do you use without realizing you are quoting Shakespeare?
I wonder how many children today would volunteer to be a whipping boy at court
Would you have applied to be Groom of the Stool? It was an extremely important and influential post and much sought after; but I should warn you that it did involve wiping King Henry VIII’s bottom
Did you know 161 people died in Soho in 1854 from cholera, having drunk from a local pump which pumped out water contaminated by sewage?
The final sketch is even more serious. Field Marshal Haig is interviewed in Apprentice-style by Lord Sugar and asked how many died during the battle of the Somme in World War 1.
There is also audience participation. One brave little girl ended up in the stocks
There is a cast of just two actors and they are doing quick costume changes all the time.
Ashley Bowden and Laura Dalgleish have bags of energy and an easy rapport with the young audience.
The kids squealed with delight when highwayman Dick (Stand & Deliver!) Turpin entered brandishing two pistols and descended into the auditorium squirting water over everybody.
The management recommends Horrible Histories to anybody between the age of 5 and 105. I took a 71-year-old and he was very well-behaved throughout.