Since the books were first published in 1993, Terry Deary’s “Horrible Histories” has gone on to phenomenal success, including a BAFTA-winning television series, magazines and thriving touring stage productions.
Now in their tenth year, the stage productions are back, as Horrible Histories invaded the Darlington Civic Theatre on Wednesday, June 24th, 2015.
Produced by the Birmingham Stage Company, Horrible Histories – Incredible Invaders follows Mavis (brilliantly portrayed by Hannah Boyce), an ancient Briton who is dodging a life of slavery from the Romans, Saxons and Vikings, as part of this thousand year journey through history.
The brilliance of Horrible Histories – Incredible Invaders is its ability to combine entertainment and education in one overall package. The four-strong ensemble (which also includes Laura Dalgleish, Ashley Bowden and Charlie Buckland) reel off facts in slapstick comic fashion, assisted by costumes and props such as swords and spears, to tell the fascinating story of our ancestors.
To make history more understandable and relatable, Horrible Histories – Incredible Invaders features parodies of popular television formats, such as “Come Dine With Me”, “The Great British Bake Off” and “Grand Designs”.
This adds an extra element of humour to the production, even if younger viewers aren’t overly familiar with the concept of the programmes. There are also a handful of songs, although these don’t have the same the impact as those evident in the TV show.
The cast are joined by a computer generated backdrop, which provides the basis for some slick digital designs (from Jacqueline Trousdale), such as the building of Hadrian’s Wall and the fletched arrow impaling King Howard in the Battle of Hastings.
The backdrop is excellently utilised throughout, proving more effective in the second half of the production, as onlookers are required to wear a pair of 3D glasses to watch blood splats, severed limbs, rabid dogs and venomous snakes jump out of the screen.
The 3D visuals are incredibly impressive, though it may prove a bit too much for younger members of the audience. After all, the tagline for Horrible Histories is “history with the nasty bits left in”, and this fantastic stage production is no exception.
Horrible Histories – Incredible Invaders and Groovy Greeks is at Darlington Civic Theatre until Saturday, June 27th, 2015. Tickets are available from the box office and website.