Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain is back in the West End with a brand-new show full of crazy characters and rude new rulers from Britain’s barmy past!

Will you be conquered by William? Will you sink or swim with King Henry I? Go house hunting with King Henry VIII! Join the gorgeous Georgians as they take over England! Break into Buckingham Palace and hide from the Queen! Watch out for the witch of World War Two!

The Horrible Histories series is a wonderful way to teach children (and some adults) about history. Through dressing up in different costumes every few minutes, the two actors manage to keep the attention of (most of) the children (sadly not the ones sat next to me) and entertain them, whilst also educating.

What surprised me was how much the children in the audience already knew! Whether they had read the book, seen it on TV or learnt it at school, they certainly knew more than I did about history when I was a child. Whether this is down to brilliant school teachers or the fun way the Horrible Histories series works (I’m assuming the latter), these kids know a thing or two.

As always with kids shows there were some unnecessary (in my opinion) ‘poo’ and ‘fart’ jokes (why do we need these?) and a scene where they stamped on a sea turtles head until it died (which was totally uncalled for and made the child next to me cry). It may have only been ‘a teddy from Hamleys’ as they told the audience, but I fear this may encourage mischievous children to think that kind of behaviour is ok. It isn’t – especially when it comes to endangered animals.

The two actors do a great job, keeping the energy high throughout the seventy minute performance and if you’re looking to distract your children for an hour over the holidays then you could do a lot worse than taking them to see this show. It’s a great way of making them learn without evening realising it! Hopefully they stop killing turtles though!


Reviewed by West End Wilma