Karen Blake reviews Horrible Histories – Awful Egyptians at Bristol Hippodrome, running until Sat 27th July.
My 10 year old daughter is mad about Horrible Histories; she loves the books by Terry Deary and the TV series inspired by the books too. I have to say I am in agreement with her. As a grown up, I also find them funny and educational and its the sort of show we will all watch together without me begrudging it. My youngest daughter is 6 and is not so much into it, but as the age range for this show is 5+ I thought I would bring her along for the ride at Bristol Hippodrome too.
A teacher and her young pupil Milo accidentally get locked in the museum overnight when Milo gets lost coming back from the toilet, and the evening starts to get really interesting when Miss Happ discovers an ancient Egyptian sculpture of Pharaoh Ramesses which she shouldn’t really be touching as this causes him to come back to life and lead them on a historical and gruesome journey into Ancient Egypt. As with the books and the TV show, the stage version of Horrible Histories doesn’t shy away from leaving all the nasty bits of history in. (You know, the kind of bits that kids love, like watching a mummy have his brains pulled out through his nostrils…) In the first part of the show, the action is part history lesson, part comedy and with just a little sprinkling of panto-esque elements like a competitive audience sing along with actions that (much to my amusement) made my 10 year old cringe as she is WAY TOO COOL for that kind of thing. The second half of the performance was where the show very much came alive for me, as the they used some pretty spectacular 3D effects to really make you feel fully immersed in the action. It’s worth a little warning here though for parents of children with a more sensitive disposition; my youngest at times found these special effects just a little too realistic, especially the bit where the scarab beetle looked like it it was being dumped on our heads as she has a bit of a bug phobia and this bit freaked her out royally! My eldest loved it all of course, especially the gory bits. We both enjoyed the adrenaline of feeling compelled to duck when we felt 3D rocks being thrown in our direction even though we both know it wasn’t real. I really loved the show, my eldest did too and my youngest was 50/50. I left feeling like lots of the patchy bits in my knowledge of ancient Egyptian history had been filled in, and I was thoroughly entertained. However, seeing as this is a show aimed at kids, I thought it important that my kids told you what they thought, so…
“Horrible Histories was a good-ish play. I think it should have an age rating of 7 because it was pretty scary to me. I think it was funny when the Egyptian kept going ‘hur, hur, hur!’. I also liked the little theme song. Good luck with the next one!” – E, 6 years and 9 months old.
“Horrible Histories is a great theatre show. I think the actors were really entertaining and the multi role method was really clever. In the 3D part I loved the interactive elements. I think it should have had an age rating though as my sister was a little bit scared. Thanks Bristol Hippodrome!” – R, 10 years old.
Overall, I found this a really enjoyable show and I would highly recommend it, with the little caveat for those more sensitive children. The show is on for one more day, so get in while you can!
Review by Karen Blake