Horrible Histories is a tale of two halves

Croydon Guardian: Simon Lloyd and Laura Crowhurst Simon Lloyd and Laura Crowhurst

The books have spawned a generation of fans and the TV show has won three Baftas so the prospect of a “romantic” Valentine’s night at Horrible Histories – The Terrible Tudors was expected to be one to savour.

Boasting 3D effects alongside the stage actors, the show is certainly not living in the past, and an interactive programme full of puzzles and funny facts shows the producers know their target audience.

Typically the books take a scattergun approach to presenting history and the most notable difference with the stage production is the conscious effort of the show to provide genuine education within the blood and guts.

Indeed the first half almost has the feel of a touring school theatre company, with pantomime-style audience participation, sing-a-longs and low-to-no budget effects.

It is only in the second half the production team bring out the big guns, and show you what they can do.

The audience (yours truly included) visibly flinches as shards of Spanish galleon splinter from a stricken Armada, and the screams of glee were tinged with terror as fireworks hurtle towards you at break neck pace.

Such is the hypnotic effect of the 3D effects, the actions of the actors themselves, who perform with great enthusiasm, fade into the background as you wait in anticipation for more explosions and violence.

Simon Lloyd, as the bombastic Dr Dee, is a picture perfect Henry VIII and leads from the front, ably assisted by Laura Crowhurst and Pip Chamberlain as his lackeys Dross and Drab.

Crowhurst in particular seemed to be taking great joy in her mischievous role, belting out the tawdry tunes with a wicked relish.

As a counterpoint Lynette Clarke was every bit a disapproving official trying desperately to curb the other’s excesses.

If you’ve a 10-year-old boy bouncing off the walls during half-term then look no further and the excitement almost visibly exuding from the younger members of the audience do the cast credit, especially prior to the 3D wonderment.

The only question that remains is why did we have to wait so long?

Horrible Histories The Terrible Tudors and The Vile Victorians are playing at The Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon between February 15 and February 18.

Visit ww.fairfield.co.uk or call 0208 688 9291 for details.

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