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Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Pt 5: Our review

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Pt 5: Our review

BritMum’s Roni Dutta took her son and two friends along to see Horrible Histories latest instalment of Barmy Britain. Now in its fifth incarnation at The Apollo Theatre in London’s Shaftsbury Avenue.

Neal Foster and Morgan Philpott in Barmy Britain part 5 Live on Stage by Birmingham Stage Company. Photo by Mark Douet
Neal Foster and Morgan Philpott in Barmy Britain part 5 Live on Stage by Birmingham Stage Company. Photo by Mark Douet

What’s Horrible Histories Barmy Britain all about?

Ronita Dutta BritMums writer
Ronita, our mum reviewer

We’ve been to (and thoroughly enjoyed) a few Horrible Histories productions now, so have come to know what to expect. This year the narrative somewhat topically revolves around Britain’s status as an independent nation. The two lead actors charge onto the stage clad in Union Jack waistcoats and take the audience on a whistlestop journey through carefully selected nuggets of historical significance.

We learn about Saxon warrior queen Aethelflaed, how Scotland came to join the Union, the various kings and queens of England and where they came from — all through the medium of song and dance, jovial banter and gags.

Neal Foster and Morgan Philpott in Union Jack waistcoats in Barmy Britain part 5 Live on Stage by Birmingham Stage Company Photo by Mark Douet
Neal Foster and Morgan Philpott in Barmy Britain part 5 Live on Stage by Birmingham Stage Company Photo by Mark Douet

Is the latest Horrible Histories Barmy Britain good?

Given it’s the fifth in this series of plays about Britain, we were a bit concerned they might be milking the franchise. Would we already know a lot of the historical touchpoints? I’m happy to say that there were plenty of fresh facts and historical hearsay covering events as recent as Michael Fagan’s famous Buckingham Palace break-in and private audience with the queen in 1982.

What always strikes me about these shows is the sheer energy of actors Morgan Philpott and the show’s multitalented writer. actor and director Neal Foster. They are on stage for 70 minutes nonstop with no interval. There are quick costume changes and the actors are in fine voice, delivering this performance twice a day.

There are plenty of jokes pandering to parents with nods to shows like Top Gear, The Apprentice and Location Location Location as well as the more obvious “Made you say ‘poo’” gags and gruesome gore that Horrible Histories trades on.

Who would love Barmy Britain?

You don’t have to have seen previous Barmy Britain or Horrible Histories shows to enjoy this one. Anyone who enjoys learning about history and laughing will love this fast-paced performance. Catch it while you can!

Nervous about going back to the theatre?

Are you concerned about how COVID-secure the experience will be? All ticket holders must fill in an online check-in health questionnaire before tickets are dispatched. And masks must be worn by audience members over 12 when not eating. 

If you or anyone in your party experience symptoms of COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate, Nimax Theatres offer a 100% exchange guarantee up to 24 hours before your performance. (Be sure to check the Nimax Theatres site for the latest policies and rules, as these can change according to official advice.)

Barmy Britain Pt 5 plays until the end of August at The Apollo Theatre, London.

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About Ronita Dutta

Former BritMums Brilliance in Blogging judge and award-winning freelance journalist with over 20 years experience producing engaging content for clients including BBC Studios, The Independent and Penguin. She's written on a diverse range of subjects from health and beauty to parenting, education, psychology and even the weather. Daughter of Bengali immigrants, Ronita was born and bred in London where she and her son can often be found building endless Lego creations.