REVIEW: Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Four, Apollo Theatre

This hilarious and silly show captures the spirit of the books on which it is based perfectly with plenty for adults and children to enjoy. 

Barmy Britain Part 4 by Birmingham Stage Company. Anthony Spargo (Roger and Neal Foster (Rex) Photo by Mark Douet. _50A8877(2)
(c)Mark Douet

There is nothing quite like the sound of children laughing in a theatre and thankfully in Birmingham Stage Company’s latest Horrible Histories production there is plenty of opportunity to hear it.

Taking audiences young and old through the history of Barmy Britain, adapted from the hugely popular books, there are plenty of characters to meet along the way – not least Richard III, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I to name a few, all of whom are wonderfully brought to life by Neal Foster and Anthony Spargo to entertain the younger members of the audience thoroughly.

In order to educate as well as entertain, it is important that the production thoroughly captures the spirit in which Terry Deary wrote the books and thankfully Neal Foster’s production does with the help of audience participation and the way in which it never talks down to the children, but delivers the information in a fun way – in fact I think even the adults learnt a thing or two!

The entire production is fast paced and energetic and brings to mind The Reduced Shakespeare Company in its style and the audience is always able to keep up with what is happening thanks songs filled with witty lyrics that keeps the show focused but light hearted.

Even when the show references witchcraft, beheadings and burnings – it is handled with great sensitivity and humour that it isn’t frightening but children still get an understanding of the history behind it all.

Perhaps the show throws in too many conflicting references to contemporary Britain – such as Brexit that feel like a distraction from Barmy Britain’s main focus, but this is a minor distraction from the sheer joy of the production overall.

As a way to get children into history, Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Four is immensely entertaining, educational and well worth a visit to the Apollo theatre.

By Emma Clarendon 

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Four continues to play at the Apollo Theatre until the 1st September. To book tickets click here or visit: See Tickets, Encore Tickets, Theatre Tickets, Love, From the Box Office and

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


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