If a Westminster traffic warden ever hosted a party with Queen Victoria, Charles I, Burke and Hare, Paddy McGuinness and Dick Turpin, it would be an explosive gathering to which we’d all want an invitation.
Now we have one, as Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain brings a second instalment of monarch-mocking, rapping-royal action to the Garrick theatre.
From Boudicca’s rocking rendition of We Will Smash You, a Roman-inspired take on the classic Queen hit, to a song that allows you to diagnose whether or not you’re suffering from the Bubonic Plague, this is a show packed full of musical sing-a-longs that seek to rouse competition between the two halves of the kid-crammed auditorium.
The dynamic duo tasked with wrenching up the rivalry, Lauryn Redding and Anthony Spargo hold court with boundless energy and enthusiasm, travelling through time and space, from medieval times to the 21st century, through Essex and Europe, with mere seconds to change in and out of their wacky wardrobe of disguises.
Featuring some of the most hilarious and disgusting sound effects ever to make contact with a child’s eardrums, the show delivers hilarity and hard-hitting historic facts in equal measure, educating the school-going audience about the 10s of millions of people who died in the Black Death and, with the help of ITV’s favourite matchmaker, the gruesome fate of William Wallace at the hands of Edward I.
While it is the accompanying adults who will take the most amusement from the spoof Take Me Out, TOWIE and Undercover Boss sketches, the production features one television series that the children are sure to recognise, the Body Snatchers’ melodic and murderous reworking of the Postman Pat theme tune.
The poo gags are similarly high up in popularity among the uniform-clad theatregoers, as we are introduced not only to the big players in English history but also to the man in charge of wiping their bottoms; never has a stained rag caused such overwhelming disgust.
Not one to constantly dwell on the past – surprisingly – Barmy Britain 2 also draws comedy from an ample arsenal of modern references, from the Coalition to rising energy prices, showing how the politics of today are just as barmy and just as likely to be turned into a silly stage show as the well-known figures and events found elsewhere in British history.