Review: Horrible Histories - Incredible Invaders

History is served up 'warts and all' at New Wimbledon Theatre

If you like your history served up warts and all, and don’t mind the gory bits literally landing in your lap, then this is the show for you.

Alternating with its partner production Groovy Greeks, Incredible Invaders was at the New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday 21 May as part of its UK tour.

The whole Horrible Histories phenomenon is pretty familiar, to anyone with primary-aged kids at least, from the books, TV series and previous stage tours. Incredible Invaders follows the familiar pattern of comic sketches, sing-along musical numbers and TV show parodies (the great British bash up, for example).

But what gives the HH franchise’s current outing the edge is the ingenious use of 3D effects that dominate the second act. Without introducing too many spoilers, be ready to have every weapon in the Viking and Anglo-Saxon armoury coming at you from the stage, along with a fair few body parts, in a way that really ramps up audience excitement.

What’s clever about Horrible Histories is the way it slips bags of facts into even the most slapstick routine. The show opens when Ancient Briton, Mavis is saved from being burned in a wicker man by the Romans.  As we follow Mavis through the ages we get a clear, potted history of England’s various invaders, and their legacies, ending up with a brilliantly executed 3D Battle of Hastings. 

Even if you think you know your British history, there’s always something to learn; from the origins of English town names to the fact that William the Conqueror was actually a Viking (Norman = Norseman – who knew?).

The show reaches its 1066 conclusion and we’re left with a timely reminder that with so many invasions, diversity has always been Britain’s strength.  As the closing song tells us, if you want your race pure, you’re 2000 years too late!

By Elizabeth Thompson

May 23, 2016