Review: Horrible Histories, The Terrible Tudors, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday

Horrible Histories author Terry Deary being chased by one of his favourite characters, Henry VIII (played by Charles Davies), on his way to a book-signing at Waterstones, in York

Horrible Histories author Terry Deary being chased by one of his favourite characters, Henry VIII (played by Charles Davies), on his way to a book-signing at Waterstones, in York

First published in Theatre

Ever wanted to see legendary historical figures as they lived back then? If so, prepare yourselves for the highly-animated theatre production of The Terrible Tudors.

The play brings to life one of the books in the hugely successful series Horrible Histories. The series has captivated children far and wide due to author Terry Deary's vivacious descriptions of historical facts, and the theatre productions certainly follow in the books' footsteps.

There is much to be learnt but this is no ordinary history lesson, meaning neither children nor adults get the chance to fit in a yawn. Witch burning, gory punishments and merciless executions are but a few features of the play's upfront depiction of what really went on during Tudor times.

Although the Birmingham Stage Company cast is small, the range of characters brought to life is vast. From a haughty Henry VII to an electrifying Elizabeth I, the four cast members trail through the Tudor timeline leaving no stone unturned. The dynamic performances are sprinkled with humour and bursts of song, to which the audience are even encouraged to join in.

By the first interval everyone, adults included, is guaranteed to have the infectious tune - "divorced, beheaded, died... divorced, beheaded survived" (naturally about Henry VIII and his many wives) - resonating in their heads.

As for the second half, prepare for fireworks. Everyone is presented with 3D bogglevision glasses and, once they are on, the atmosphere becomes more vibrant than ever. As well as rockets racing towards you, be sure to dodge the cannonballs booming in your direction as you are taken on board a ship to battle the Spanish Armada.

A big sigh of disappointment as the show drew to an end indicated that the audience was left wanting more. Luckily enough, there was more to be had, as the cast will be performing The Vile Victorians too. The question is: can it possibly be more gruesome than the Terrible Tudors? There's only one way to find out...

Performances: The Terrible Tudors, 1.30pm today, 10.30am tomorrow and 7pm, Saturday; The Vile Victorians, 10.30am today, 7pm tomorrow and 2.30pm, Saturday.

- Heledd Williams

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