Groovy Greeks is the energetic and informative new Horrible Histories show produced by The Birmingham Stage Company. Currently being performed in rep alongside Incredible Invaders, Groovy Greeks flies through thousands of years of Greek history faster than soaring Apollo on his fiery chariot.
Based on the brilliant books by Terry Deary, the CBBC show Horrible Histories has always been welcomed viewing in our house. Encompassing history, fun and gore, it is as much fun for parents as it is for children.
The energetic storytelling by the cast of four is really complimented by designer Jacqueline Trousdale’s 3D animation and the Bogglevision 3D specs which are handed out to the audience for the second half. The action is given a full seal of approval by the original author Terry Deary too, his familiar rich tone providing the voice of Zeus.
First up we meet The Trojans, a clever skit on The Simpsons complete with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Mr. Burns. Next up, following a quick and seamless change, we have The ‘Hungry’ Games. The show uses many popular family TV shows to guide us through the history of Ancient Greece – we see Greece’s greatest thinkers collide in the Big Brother House and we vote for the most talented omnipotent power in ‘The God’s Have Talent’ – will our winner be a hip-hop Athena or a Lily Allen-esque Aphrodite?
What is perhaps so special about Horrible Histories on stage, is the interaction between the performers and the audience. Under Neal Foster’s clever direction, the performers keep their young (and old) crowd engrossed throughout the whole show – whether it is inviting a willing audience member to the stage, a mass singalong or making the crowd part of the chorus in an Ancient Greek Drama.
Considering the popularity of Horrible Histories, I was surprised to see that there were a lot of empty seats in the Lyric Theatre on the night that I attended. Maybe this was a reflection on playing Groovy Greeks alongside Incredible Invaders and the cost involved in purchasing tickets for both shows. Nevertheless, it was evident that the diverse audience were gripped for the full two hours running time.
Playing to a predominantly young audience has to be one of the most challenging but arguably, one of the most rewarding jobs in theatre. Groovy Greeks has a brilliantly entertaining cast who bounce off each other and enthuse their audience with vigour and curiosity. Any show that manages to tap into the minds of our young historians and future creatives must be celebrated and Groovy Greeks does just that.
Horrible Histories: Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders is at The Lowry, Salford until Saturday 9th April 2016 and you can get your tickets here.