I will be honest, not having any kids of my own, Horrid Henry: Live And Horrid! was my first experience of the imaginative young tearaway who delights in tormenting his younger brother and is a constant headache for his parents. But it certainly wasn’t all new to the auditorium full of giggling, squealing children excited to see their favourite book and TV programme live on stage.
Horrid Henry, the mop-haired, blue jumper-ed Dennis the Menace-style pain in the proverbial, is sent to his room at the very start of the show, from where he imagines what he would do if he had his own stage show; the stories he would tell, the characters – which include favourites like Perfect Peter, Moody Margaret and Beefy Bert – and the music, all of which is then played out on Pip Leckenby’s cunningly panelled set through which characters appear and disappear like jack in the boxes.
His stories are reminiscent of many a childhood – attending a dance class he would rather not, desperately trying to win football tickets and being subjected to a dreaded baby-sitter – but all, as you would imagine, end with him being horrid to try and get his own way. And it is his show, after all, so why shouldn’t he? While the kids laugh at Henry’s tricks and general naughtiness, there is enough of reality there for the parents to recognise; who hasn’t seen kids dressed as dancing fruit?!
But this is not really for the parents though looking around they all seemed to be enjoying it; this is definitely a show for the children. It is big and bold, silly, primary-coloured and performed with enough energy to power all of London’s Christmas lights. Judging from the singing and dancing going on around me, the shouting out, the eagerness to get involved, the rush to the stage at the end and the mobbing of a returning Henry following the final curtain, the younger audience members certainly enjoyed it, and without being horrid themselves.