Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Horrible Histories Frightful First World War - The Opera House, Manchester

Horrible Histories – Frightful First World War
Writer: Terry Deary
Director: Phil Clark
Reviewer: Lee Astbury

Despite several car crashes, and back logs of traffic due to the on field war between Manchester United and CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford, The Birmingham Stage Company took admirably to the frontline on time and with a heavy and talented artillery gave everything they had to keep the theatre full of families and school groups highly entertained.

Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories series has become a firm favourite amongst children, bringing a unique and entertaining look at some of the most important moments throughout history, they have been turned into a successful animated television series and for the past few years brought vividly to life by Birmingham Stage Company.

For this recent tour Birmingham Stage Company bring to life ‘The Frightful First World War’ and ‘The Woeful Second World War,’ and it is the former that we had the pleasure of seeing at the Manchester Opera House last night.

Angelica (played with real gusto by Penny Lambert) is a 12 year old girl, who upon finding a very dry account of the First World War in a history book, she takes out her Laptop and Googles it instead, she is then whisked away almost akin to the Wizard of Oz to 1914 and right in the heart of the World War. It is here that Angelica is given a rude awaking to the harsh realities of life for a soldier on the front line and we receive some interesting facts including how a urine drenched handkerchief could save your life.

Phil Wilmott’s direction is always sharp and maximises every availability to show you the horrors of the war, but still manage to find the humour and fun that a production needs to keep its audience entertained, and Terry Deary’s script is laden with witty one-liners and jokes galore. There is also great audience participation especially during the cookhouse scene.

If that wasn’t enough then the show really kicks into its weaponry when in the second half we are given 3D glasses to enjoy the show with live ‘Bogglevision’ (designed with real flair by Jacqueline Trousdale) really immerses you into the action and is truly outstanding from bullets whizzing past your head, shells exploding and a certain rat who managed to get almost everybody screaming.

With a highly talented cast and a production that packs so much information and energy into a delightful two hours, you can guarantee that you will leave the theatre in awe at what you have experienced...Highly Recommended.

runs until Sat 7th Nov
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