Tag Archives: Birmingham Stage Company

Theatre Review: Horrible Christmas at The Lowry

For many families it is something of a Christmas tradition to go and see a panto or a Christmas play. We are no different, but this year we thought we’d go and see something horrible, something very horrible indeed –  Horrible Christmas from the Horrible Histories team.

Running until Sunday 8th January, Horrible Christmas tells the story of Wendy Watson who with the help of detective Shirley Holmes sets out to save Christmas from a very bad Santa – Sydney Claus.

This time travelling romp through history sees Wendy and Shirley chase Sydney and Rudolf through the ages, from Victorian villains to Medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor times, meeting notable figures from history including Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Charles II and King Henry VIII. 

It’s very funny, it’s fast paced, it’s full of excellent songs, there’s audience participation and a lot of laughs. Plus we all learned a little something about the horrible history of Christmas.

Theatre Review: Horrible Christmas at The Lowry

The songs are catchy and funny, with the rap by King Charles II being something very special indeed. The audience are encouraged to participate in a sing off (with actions) involving stuffing a selection of festive birds into other incrementally larger festive birds. You had to be there, but the boys loved it!

Neal Foster plays the role of “Dad” and a whole host of other historical characters. He was exceptionally funny in each and every incarnation. Chris Gunter is Sidney Claus – the baddest bad Santa of them all. Sidney is a Santa with a large dose of Fagin and an evil twinkle in his eye. His sidekick Rudolph is played to dopey perfection by Ashley Bowden. 

Horrible Histories Christmas is around 2 hours long with an interval. It is suitable for children aged 4+. I took two six year olds and I thought some of it was a little over their heads. They were full of historical facts the next day, so maybe I’m wrong. With tickets starting at £10, this is a furiously funny alternative to the traditional panto.

Horrible Histories – Horrible Christmas The Lowry is on from Wednesday 7 December 2016 to Sunday 8 January 2017

We were invited guests of The Lowry. All opinions are our own.

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

Horrible Histories is one of those unique children’s TV programmes which really does have mass appeal. I love watching Horrible Histories, it’s really, genuinely funny, it’s educational and the songs are catchier than the bubonic plague.

Back in April we went to see Horrible Histories – Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders when it was on at The Lowry in Salford Quays. It was a riotous romp through history and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

This Christmas The Lowry is once again playing host to the Horrible Histories crew – from Wednesday 7 December to Sunday 8 January there really will be a Horrible Christmas at The Lowry!

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

When Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red, it’s up to one young boy to save the day – but can he save Christmas? From Victorian villains to Medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor treats, join the Horrible Histories gang on an hair-raising adventure through the history of Christmas in the company of Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII, St Nicholas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as they all join forces to save the festive season!

It’s a celebration of Christmas in the most wonderful, wildly funny and moving way you’ll ever see! We can’t wait, what a brilliant way to kick off the festive season with a bit of Horrible Histories Christmas.

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

The show is suitable for children aged 4+. With tickets starting at £10, this is a furiously funny alternative to the traditional panto.

Horrible Histories – Horrible Christmas The Lowry is on from Wednesday 7 December to Sunday 8 January 2017.

Preview: Horrible Histories Christmas at The Lowry

Theatre Review: David Walliams Gangsta Granny

This summer the Birmingham Stage Company are touring the UK with their theatre production of the popular David Walliams Gangsta Granny book. We went along to The Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays watch it.

We’ve yet to read the book, but we’ve watched TV adaptations of David Walliams’ Mr Stink and Gangsta Granny and we knew to expect silliness, smells and a heartwarming message underneath it all.

The book was originally published in 2011, and went straight to number 1 in the children’s book charts. David Walliams Gangsta Granny was later adapted for TV and was shown on BBC1 in 2013, starring David Walliams and a host of other popular personalities. 

David Walliams Gangsta Granny

David Walliams Gangsta Granny tells the tale of schoolboy Ben who is sent to stay with his Granny every weekend so his parents can go out ballroom dancing. Ben thinks she is the boringest Grandma ever. All she wants to do is to play Scrabble and eat cabbage soup, but what he doesn’t know is that his Granny was once an international jewel thief known as “The Black Cat”. Very soon Friday nights are the highlight of Ben’s week, as together they plan a daring raid on the Crown Jewels.

The two stars of the show, Ben played by Ashley Cousins and Granny played by Gilly Tompkins are fabulous. Granny, although small, stooped and grey steals virtually every scene. Her occasional cabbage trumps have the audience of small children and their parents giggling – all it needs is a cabbage scented scratch and sniff card to complete the effect.

Ben’s parents are meant to be annoying, and they are. His whiny, self-centred mum especially so, though I did enjoy the almost Mr Bean-like performance from Benedict Martin who plays both Ben’s Dad and nosy neighbour Mr Parker.

David Walliams Gangsta Granny

The supporting cast help to keep the pace up, Umar Malik is notable as penny-pinching but wise shopkeeper Raj and slimy dancer Flavio, and Louise Bailey as the Queen who is rather partial to cabbage soup and doesn’t mind the unfortunate side effects.

Gangsta Granny is full of glorious slapstick humour, it’s colourful, glittery, drab, funny, serious, silly and sad in equal measure. I wasn’t quite expecting to come away so affected by the moral of the story – just because someone is old it doesn’t mean they are invisible. 

Loneliness, especially in old age is a terrible thing, and it’s something I’m particularly mindful of. If Gangsta Granny encourages more people to speak to and check up on their elderly relatives and neighbours, then that’s a very excellent thing indeed. You never know, the nice old lady next door might have been an international jewel thief with a million pounds worth of treasure in a biscuit tin in her kitchen!

David Walliams Gangsta Granny

We thoroughly enjoyed Gangsta Granny, there were laugh out loud moments all the way through, lots of slapstick, funny smells and a thought provoking moral to the story – what more could you want?

The Birmingham Stage Company are currently touring David Walliams Gangsta Granny around the UK. You can find the tour dates here.

Preview: Gangsta Granny at The Lowry

The long summer holidays are here and it can be hard to find things to keep my boy entertained. We’ve got a few nice things pencilled in for over the summer break. One thing I’m especially looking forward to is Gangsta Granny by David Walliams at The Lowry in Salford Quays. It’s on from Wednesday 31 August to Sunday 4 September 2016. 

We really enjoy our trips to The Lowry, we make a real event out of it. A tram ride, the theatre, a walk around the Quays, maybe a visit to the Blue Peter garden, a little something to eat somewhere and then home again on the tram. Lots of fun, lots of adventure and usually a really good show. 

This summer the Birmingham Stage Company are touring the UK with their production of the popular David Walliams’ book, Gangsta Granny. 

Gangsta Granny

It’s Friday night and Ben knows that means only one thing – staying with Granny! She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma…

  1. She was once an international jewel thief.
  2. All her life, she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels, and now she needs Ben’s help.

Soon Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny!

Gangsta Granny

In 2011 David Walliams wrote Gangsta Granny, which was shortlisted for both The Red House Children’s Book Award and for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. During Christmas 2013 a TV version of Gangsta Granny was shown on BBC One with an all-star cast including David Walliams himself. Gangsta Granny went straight to number 1 in the children’s book charts and his books have been translated into no fewer than 30 languages.

Gangsta Granny

We’ll be going on 31st August and we’re looking forward to watching the adventures of Ben and his Gangsta Granny!

Gangsta Granny is on at The Lowry Salford Quays from 31st August – 4th September 2016.