Keeping kids entertained over the school holidays is no easy feat, but the team at Horrible Histories are pulling out all of the stops.
After the ‘Orrible ‘Opera at BBC Proms, and alongside the Terrible Thames cruise, comes Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors at The Garrick Theatre London.
If you’re a fan of mayhem and murder, excitement and execution, and Terrible Tudors, this show is for you.
This 70-minute production runs most mornings/afternoons throughout the holidays and promises non-stop fun for the family.
As the name suggests, this production tells the stories of the Tudors with song, dance, puppets and a plethora of jokes to keep the kids entertained as they unknowingly learn British History.
In a short space of time they cover various monarchs, William Shakespeare, old punishment methods and the forming of the Church of England, whilst still keeping it fun somehow.
Hosted by Dr. Dee (Neal Foster) and Drabb (Emma Swan), this show breaks into comedic renditions of William Shakespeare performing Black Eyed Peas ‘I got a feeling’ and transforming ‘Gangnam Style’ to ‘Tudor Style’ in one act of pure chaos of the best kind.
Whilst the costume/wig changes are mostly done on the stage they are done casually and easily whilst explaining a storyline, so nothing feels disjointed or rigid. Some of the costumes are actually rather impressive for ‘kids theatre’, Henry VIII and Mary Queen of Scott’s to give examples.
As expected in children’s theatre, Terrible Tudors is crammed full of crowd participation, from chanting and cheering to boogying and booing, the kids are enthralled and entertained from start to finish.
I didn’t see a single child look bored or start complaining – which is a pretty big deal.
Amongst football puns to explain the Pope (“one Church of England, no pope, one Church of England, no pope, and you’ll just have to cope”) and puppets to explain Henry VIII’s kids, the wide variety of mediums and short storylines are easy to follow whilst being concise and to the point.
This alone kept all adults present entertained as it is, but there were a few cheeky adult-only jokes thrown in there too, just to keep parents on their toes.
In a scene where the audience booed the monarchy, Dr. Dee remarked “Harry and Meghan won’t come back if you act like this. He’ll write another book and we don’t want that.” Before quickly adding a witty “I’ve got a spare if you want it.”
With tongue-in-cheek jabs at Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Liz Truss, there was more than enough for parents/guardians to enjoy.
The cherry on the top was splitting the crowd in two to chant Henry VIII’s ‘divorced beheaded died…’ rhyme to see who could do it best. (The King’s side obviously won.)
With only two onstage performers, Swan and Foster command the stage with a casual flair for the dramatic, perfect timing, and surprisingly impressive vocal chops. Whilst a third or fourth actor could definitely prove beneficial, their performance wasn’t lacking or ‘lesser’ in any way by only being a duo.
The one thing missing was of course, the Horrible History theme song. That would have really made the day.
Runs Until: 2nd September (11am/2pm/4pm depending on day of the week). https://thegarricktheatre.co.uk/tickets/horrible-histories-terrible-tudors-2/
Reviewer: Ely King
Reviewed: 1st August 2023
North West End UK Rating: