Horrible Histories brings the bloody reign of the Terrible Tudors to life at Nottingham Theatre Royal

The Terrible Tudors brought to life by the actors of the Birmingham Stage Company (Photo by Mark Douet).
The Terrible Tudors brought to life by the actors of the Birmingham Stage Company (Photo by Mark Douet).

There are no punches pulled by the tremendously talented Horrible Histories team when revealing the often gruesome facts surrounding the reign of the Tudors.

On TV and in print, the Horrible Histories juggernaut is largely responsible for capturing the imagination of a generation of kids when it comes to opening up the mysteries and intrigue of the past.

Crime and punishment during Tudor times was vividly brought to life (Photo by Mark Douet).

Crime and punishment during Tudor times was vividly brought to life (Photo by Mark Douet).

But when brought fully to life just feet away from you on stage, on this occasion at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, the past takes on a whole new dimension.

From Groovy Greeks and Blitzed Brits to Vicious Vikings and Vile Victorians, Horrible Histories focuses on the funniest, yuckiest and most gruesome bits of history.

And in this latest run in Nottingham there are two offerings - Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians.

My family and I had the privilege of checking out the Tudors - guts and all.

With just three actors on stage and limited props, you wonder how the tale of such a famous and turbulent time of British history can effectively be told, and all in two acts totaling no more than an hour and a half.

But fear not, it is done brilliantly and at just the perfect pace to keep kids (and adults) in the audience fully engaged - and with the right balance of comedy, fact and blood-curdling detail.

Birmingham Stage Company's Simon Nock takes the lead as Dr Dee, while Izaak Cainer as Drab and Lisa Allen in the role of Dross (all three of whom are part of a traveling show) complement each other brilliantly and never miss a beat.

From the arrival of Richard III on stage and his ignominious defeat to Henry Tudor (soon to become King Henry VII) at the Battle of Bosworth and quips about burying his body under a car park in Leicester where no-one will find him, the crowd is fully immersed.

Yes the trio are romping through an historical period, but the facts are none the less hard hitting.

A brilliant section on punishments meted out by the Tudor judiciary is hilarious, especially when one defendant has his ears and hands cut off (reading this back it shouldn't be funny, but it is).

As you can imagine, Henry VIII is a central part of the show and you won't want to miss his tongue-in-cheek rendition of the famous song Greensleeves in a bid to woo Anne Boleyn (legend has it he composed the song but it was likely written some years later).

Another fantastic musical interlude, done with audience participation with a panto nod, will surely stick with the kids in the audience and help them to recount Henry's six wives and how the first five met their demise.

There's a segment on 'manky medicine' and some of the terrible treatments for every day ailments including ingredients such as fox fat and rotten brains.

One of the funniest and most memorable parts is the botched beheading of Mary Queen of Scots.

In the second half it's time for ‘Bogglevision’ and the use of 3D glasses brings the giant background screen to life as we are cast into the attack of the Spanish Armada, as well as fireworks and explosions as Dee, Drab and Dross escape from prison.

The whole show is capped off with a retelling of the reign of Elizabeth I and her ultimate demise.

My kids - and all the others in the audience - absolutely loved the show. In my view there could be a no more glowing review!

The show continues its run until Saturday March 2.

Tickets cost £10 to £21. For more information and to check if tickets are still available CLICK HERE to visit the theatre website.

Alternatively call the box office on 0115 9895555