Horrible History’s Barmy Britain show in Dubai

Director, actor and co-writer Neal Foster gives us the gory details ...

Interview, Activities

Who is the most horrible character?
Henry VIII would probably top the bill. During Henry’s reign 72,000 people were executed, which shows what could go wrong if Henry didn’t like you. Henry started off life as a handsome and fit young man, but a riding injury hurt his leg and that’s when he started to put on weight and get mean! There aren’t many people who have had two of their wives beheaded and got away with it! Henry enjoyed eating – he often had five meals a day and they were always Kingsize portions! He’s definitely a great character to perform – and the costume is amazing.

What about your favourite?

I like playing Guy Fawkes. In our show we tell the story of the Gunpowder Plot by entering Guy Fawkes into the competition WHO WANTS TO BLOW UP PARLIAMENT, which bears some resemblance to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire! Guy has to answer three questions correctly in order to win the prize of having a chance to blow up parliament. In our show Guy is very silly and funny – but he needs help in answering the questions so he asks if he can phone a friend – and even asks the audience to help him!

Why do the horrid parts of history appeal so much to kids?
I think children like to experiment safely with exploring the horrid aspects of life. It’s why they like films about vampires and zombies. It gives them a chance to see how scary things can be in a very safe way. Lots of children appear to be blood thirsty when they read about executions and hangings, but there has been some research which shows that the children who are interested in reading about these things often grow up to the most vociferous people against cruelty of any kind. Children also love being naughty and Horrible Histories is a naughty, silly way of learning really wonderful stories from history.

How do the gruesome bits in Barmy Britain compare with your previous shows?
Oh, there’s lots of beheadings, poo and hangings. We even find out what happens when a woman gives her child to a baddy farmer to look after in Victorian times. But we always want to make sure there is lots of fun around the gruesome bits so it doesn’t become too scary.

For kids who don’t know the show, what can they expect?
The kids can expect an hour of hilarious fun, finding all about British history from Roman, Viking, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian times, and by accident they should also learn a lot at the same time. A lot of people think the show is just filled with jokes, but everything we say is hard fact, so you end up learning an awful lot without realising it. It’s why Horrible Histories has proved so popular over 20 years!
Horrible Histories is on stage at Ductac’s Centrepoint Theatre at 4.30pm on Thursday October 11. Dhs120 (stalls), Dhs100 (balcony). www.timeouttickets.net (04 341 4777).

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