Fringe Box



Review: Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain – GLive

Published on: 10 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 10 Jul, 2014

By Maria Rayner –

They’ve read the books, listened to the audio, watched the TV programme. So now it’s roll up, roll up, Horrible Histories has come to G Live. The gaggle of excited children in the foyer of the venue couldn’t wait.

Panto-style with startling use of technology, this is a slick production from the Birmingham Stage Company based on the best-selling books by Terry ‘the gory bits are left in’ Deary.


Dalgleish, Wilson, Fitzjohn and Martin had the mainly pre-teen audience laughing from start to finish.

The tour of Barmy British history started at Boudicca and included all the grisly favourites: Vikings, plague, Tudors, gunpowder plot, Victorians but also some less well known like Scottish independence. The highwayman sketch based on TOWIE was one for the adults.

I took my 10 year old along and he was the perfect age, giggling at the toilet humour, guffawing knowingly at the topical Suarez joke, dodging the water pistols but not at all scared of the second half special effects.

The loose plot sees two historically unspecific actors try to prove to two comedy traffic wardens that Britain is barmy. There is traditional slapstick, audience participation, singing, puppetry and a familiar game show. My favourite part was the breakdancing Queen Victoria; I thought the rotund actor had actually fallen over.


Richard the Lionheart and his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, played by Benedict Martin and Laura Dalgleish.

The second half properly astounded me, although the 3D glasses did give me a headache. If you have a child with a nervous disposition then the exploding Parliament that crashes into the audience might be alarming. But the floating WW1 poppies were beautiful.

I listened to the children’s verdicts on the way out: “That was really scary.” “It was really good.” “Definitely worth £9.50 [schools’ price].” One girl was shouting, quoting Elizabeth I.

One of the actors says, midway: “You always want to dwell on the deaths and disasters.” And the kids love it.

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain

Tue 8 – Sat 12 July

Tue: 7pm, Wed: 10.30am & 1.30pm, Thu: 1.30pm & 7pm, Fri: 10.30am & 7pm, Sat: 10.30am & 2.30pm

Tickets: £15.00* Children £12.00* Schools/Groups £9.50*

*(A £2.00 per ticket booking fee will be added to all transactions. No booking fees for Friends of G Live or groups+)   0844 7701 797 (10am-6pm, Mon-Sat)

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