Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
The third installation of Horrible Histories' Barmy Britain boasts as much slapstick and interesting historical tid-bits as its previous editions. The two person show starring Neal Foster and Anthony Spargo, on at the The Garrick Theatre, includes several new crazy characters and recreates some of the most important moments in British history, starting from the Stone Age and moving on through to World War II.
Unlike the previous versions, this show covers the Magna Carta, Tudor dress etiquette and the London cholera epidemic. You'll learn how to distinguish English towns by the etymological endings of the names ('by' is Viking, whereas 'borough' is Saxon). You'll also learn all about the Great Fire of London — which includes an impressive on-stage recreation with smouldering red lighting and smoke.
Dramatic sound and lighting are used well to brighten up a fairly functional stage, with Neal and Anthony changing into characters at lightning speed. The show is interactive and chock-full of sing-along songs, including a signature rap song by a king.
While some jokes are a bit overdone, others seem both topical and in keeping with tradition. The last politically charged sequence, for example, is aimed squarely at parents. It's a quick hour long musical voyage into Britain's past and even though smaller tots won't sit still for its duration (out of pure excitement), this does feel like educational entertainment for kids at its best.
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain runs at the Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road, until 5 September. Tickets £16.50 to £29. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.