Yesterday we went to watch Horrible Histories, Barmy Britain, at the Garrick Theatre. General consensus was that we did enjoy it but no where near as much as the other Horrible Histories stage shows (this is the 5th we’ve seen).
Previous HH plays have all focused on a particular era and have hung together better. This was too vague a topic, all they could do is pick a few random bits of British history and throw them together. If I was the sort of home eder who had to analyse and justify these things I would be hard pressed to see what educational benefit the boys gained. It was a few standard well known bits (wives of Henry VIII!) with some quite obscure bits (Amelia Dyer – Victorian baby farmer), with no fitting together of it chronologically.
It is probably worth noting for anyone who has not seen the stage shows that it is not the TV actors. In fact they are very different, much more of a narrative feel. This one however was clearly influenced by the TV show and was much more a set of sketches, we covered Masterchef, Who wants to be a Millionaire? and the Apprentice. And it did not work anywhere near as well.
I’d have probably been a lot more positive about the whole thing if it hadn’t been for the Apprentice sketch with General Hague getting fired because of the carnage of the Battle of the Somme. It was impossible to see the humour in it. I know that not all they do is supposed to amuse, they mix in the more tragic. History is horrible after all. But they handled that one badly.
On the positives, there were laughs. Anne Boleyn was good. And we had an interesting discussion on the mechanics of death by hanging on the train home, which attracted some strange looks, inspired by the Tyburn jig song.
My advice though is skip this one and wait for the Vile Victorians and Terrible Tudors later in the year. We hope to catch them in Cardiff at the end of Nov/early Dec if anyone wants to join us.