“ Production: Birmingham Stage Company / Type: Stage show version of children's history tv series / Touring: The UK 2010 - 2011 „
My children are big fans of the 'Horrible Histories' tv series and books, so when I saw a stage production was at the Plymouth Pavilions, I bought some tickets. I chose the 'Awful Egyptians' show as it was on when I wanted to go, although the 'Ruthless Romans' is also part of the tour.
*** The Tour ***
These two shows are put on by the Birmingham Stage Company. They are touring the UK until November 2011, with their next stop being the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Tour information is available at their website: www.birminghamstage.com/shows/horrible_histories_egyptians_and_romans/tour.
*** Plymouth Pavilions ***
The Pavilions is in the centre of Plymouth, with its own car-park and the Western Approach multi-storey car-park attached by covered pedestrian bridge.
I'd left it a bit late to book, so I'd got tickets for seats at the back of the flat seating in the auditorium. In retrospect, when I was booking online I should have checked further than I did for seats - there may have been places in the tiered area, which would have been better. I'd just assumed the flat seated area was all there was available. D'oh! The ticket buying part of the Pavilions website shows each section of the seating (Flat area, Tiered and Balcony) separately, so if I'd thought about it, I could have looked to see what else there was. As it was, it wasn't easy for the children to see from where we were, (because unfortunately there were adults and teenagers in front). My daughter and her friend spent the show craning round trying to look between people's shoulders and my son sat on my lap.
Because I'd bought the tickets late, we collected them from the box office before the show, which went smoothly. I'd brought in a print-out of the transaction, and they found our tickets in a box set-aside. I'd paid £10.50 each as a "family of four". Adult tickets were £12.50, child tickets £10.50. As with any venue, there are group discounts and concessions if required and how much you pay often varies with seating or when you want to go.
In the lobby they were selling programmes and merchandise, which looked from a distance like Ancient Egyptian themed bits and bobs. I'm afraid I skirted round and motored past without looking properly, not wanting to deal with the "I want"s. (Coward that I am).
*** The 'Awful Egyptians' Show ***
The show itself begins with two museum-raiders trying to steal a statuette, a wandering tourist and the snotty curator. When the sarcophagus of Rameses the Great is disturbed, the Awful Pharaoh arises and demands to have his legacy recognised.
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" is his refrain.
There follows a comic telling of Ancient Egyptian living, with all the gross bits included, Horrible History-style. It succeeded in engaging the children and kept me interested too. In the second half there was extensive use of "Bogglevision" 3D, with the characters interacting with the big screen seamlessly. There were parts which encouraged audience participation and those worked well to build enthusiasm for the show. It was full of information about Ancient Egypt yet entertaining throughout.
The small cast did a good job, although at one point I'm pretty sure one of them missed a cue! Otherwise it was well-done, and the lighting and effects were well-integrated.
There were some musical numbers, but none of the songs are particularly memorable, (unlike when we went to see a stage show of 'Horrible Science' last year and we can still all sing the main song: "Horrible science, horrible science, horrible science is coming alive!" etc etc). It didn't use the Horrible History theme song from the tv show, which was a bit of a disappointment, (probably due to copyright or something).
*** Our reactions ***
The children have this to say about the show:
Son - "The 3D was a bit scary. It was scary and I liked it."
Daughter - "The Mummy was freaky and weird. I found it funny when the real-life Mummy was running around going 'ARRRRGHHH!'"
My son did have trouble going to sleep that night, claiming he was scared because of the Awful Egyptians. I'm not *entirely* convinced it wasn't partly just not wanting to go to bed, cynic that I am! But the show may not be suitable for very sensitive children.
I'd certainly recommend this stage show to Horrible History fans: great fun for a rainy Saturday afternoon.