Reviewed by Janine Rumble
Last night (30 May 2018) I went to see the Birmingham Stage Company production of Horrible Histories: More Best of Barmy Britain at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Being a big fan of the Horrible Histories books by Terry Deary and animated by Martin Brown and of the Horrible Histories TV Show, I was very much looking forward to seeing the show. It certainly did not disappoint, despite the show only being one hour long. I laughed and smiled through the whole hour, despite the show being mainly aimed at children. Although there were plenty of jokes aimed at the adults, which were very much appreciated.
The concept of the show is a very simple one and consists of just two actors, Benedict Martin as Rex and Pip Chamberlin as Roger. These two men took us on a journey through barmy Britain, taking us from the time the Romans ruled Britain to the frightful First World War. Through a variety of onstage costume changes, the men educated us about the different famous people of each era and what life was like during these times. They did this in a fun way, using costumes, singsongs, dances and audience participation. The programme promised that ‘it’s history with the nasty bits left in!’ and it certainly was. It was brilliant. I would recommend this show to anyone, adults and children alike. I learned many things about our countries history and I enjoyed myself at the same time.
The two actors looked like they really enjoyed what they were doing and their laughter was infectious, especially during the water drinking. Both actors had brilliant comedic timing and used this to great effect. They had the audience laughing, singing and groaning at the gross bits (which everyone secretly loves). Benedict Martin was particularly funny. I could have watched him pull his faces and listened to his different accents all night, his Saxon voice was brilliant.
The stage was very simple and consisted of two royal tents, two large clothes holders, holding both men’s costumes and a large wicker box in the centre. Both men acted as narrator’s and characters of the different times they were portraying. It is really rather clever. When I looked in the programme and saw that there were only two actors, I wondered how the show would proceed, but they did it in such a clever way. The sound effects that accompanied the show and the props were very cleverly used and added to the overall comedic effect. The show also makes fun of tv shows, such as Masterchef, but during the Roman times. The ‘suits you’ sketch from Harry Enfield, with the Tudor tailors and The Apprentice used in the First World War sketch. Pip Chamberlain does a mean Sir Alan Sugar impression. And TOWIE, who knew Dick Turpin was an Essex boy?
Overall, it was a fun, informative way to spend an hour, which I would recommend going to see. I know I will definitely be booking tickets to see the Birmingham Stage Companies next Horrible Histories production. I hope you do too.
Tickets cost from £13.25 to £50 (booking fees may apply).
Horrible Histories: More Best of Barmy Britain is at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry from 30 May to 2 June 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.belgrade.co.uk or call the box office on 02476 55 3055.
Belgrade Theatre, Belgrade Square, Coventry, CV1 1GS | 02476 55 3055