Horrible Histories has its moments, but not all of them were good
Horrible Histories, Regent on Broadway, Sunday October 8.
Based on the children's television series, Horrible Histories brings the history of Britain to the stage in an hour-long production with much to engage young people.
While the minute details may not be wholly accurate, this sweep through history was impressive, including the Roman invasion, the Magna Carta, the Black Plague, Henry VIII, Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin and Queen Victoria. Each segment was presented with plenty of humour and an eye to style – from catchy raps through to television game shows.
The two multi-talented actors, Robin Hemmings and Pip Chamberlin, eased their way cheerfully through the hour. They were obviously intent on capturing the imagination of their young audience, and encouraging their participation while they opened their eyes to historical worlds anew.
However, while one cannot help but admire the ability of these actors, there was no doubt that the presentation of history from a country on the other side of the world was a hard ask. It required great energy to keep the audience interested.
The actors sometimes leaned on automatic responses, such as when Robin Hemmings, who at a key moment of the play, surprisingly adopted an opposing character's voice, provided momentarily confusion for the audience and, obviously, also for the actors on stage, who busied themselves adlibbing reasons why this may have happened to the audience.
There was the occasional attempt to ensure the production was relevant and up-to-date – Winston Peters was encouraged to join "team Ardern", for example, while there were also fleeting references to Brexit and the world of Donald Trump. But, one could not help but wonder how relevant these worlds were to the gathered matinee audience.