Last Updated on December 30, 2022
Christmas entertainment for the whole family
Christmas theater trips played a big role in my own childhood and are a family tradition I continue to maintain with my children, usually in the form of pantomimes. But this year we ventured to look at something a little different – A Terrible Christmas – A Terrible History. This show ticks all the boxes of festive entertainment with its refreshing combination of historical facts about Christmas along with classic pantomime fun. Our family are huge fans of the Horrible History series. Author Terry Deary has authored more than 100 titles of Awful History, which is now recognized as one of the world’s best-selling nonfiction books for children. These historical classics have also been turned into a CBBC television series, and a film and the Birmingham Stage Company, which is one of the leading theater companies specializing in family theatre, have collaborated with Deary to bring exciting pieces of history to the stage. .
Our family previously loved seeing Terrible Tudors and the brilliant Barmy Britain series in London’s West End. Recent Horrible Christmas shows have visited London’s Barbican Theater over Christmas, as well as Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.
The show was directed by Birmingham Stage Company founder Neal Foster who also played Dad in the show. It’s simply set with four giant, sparkling Christmas trees and a backdrop of twinkling lights. The story begins on Christmas Eve when Wendy (Lydia-May Ashton) peeks at her presents from under the tree, where she finds a “boring” book and a much-desired meerkat toy. However, this book opens a new chapter, where Christmas is under threat from a not-so-jovial man dressed in red – Sydney Claus (Benedict Martin) and Buster (Jake Lomas) his reindeer henchmen, who are determined to get to it. festive holidays are canceled forever.
Wendy with the help of detective Shirley (aka Sherlock) Holmes travels back in time to try to save Christmas. On their way, they encounter everything from Victorian outlaws to Medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor treats. The first stop for Victorians who had lost interest in Christmas, here they found themselves in the company of Charles Dickens, who managed with their help to write the heartwarming story A Christmas Carol – a book of wishes that restores the festive spirit. Next, they came face to face with Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans who didn’t believe in fun, however, King Charles II returned the excitement with his rap. In King Henry VIII with his wife Katherine Howard some serious parties and finally a monk named St. Nicholas in 300AD, where it all started in a place called Patara which is now known as Turkey.
Time travel is depicted with very tacky and ominous flashing lights which sadly erase the projection on the back of the stage counting down the years. Apart from this, my young friends loved the crazy antics put in by the energetic cast who delivered the goofy jokes and catchy tunes, with lots of audience participation and some interesting historical facts about Christmas. A Ghastly Christmas is the perfect party treat for the whole family… and will definitely be back next Christmas!
Otherwise, we also recommend the ongoing ‘evil river tour’ from Horrible Histories – Terrible Thames.
Barbican Centre, Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS