Entertainment, Manchester, Review

Review: Horrible Histories’ Horrible Christmas at The Lowry

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By Benjamin Francis Cassidy 

Image: The Lowry

The BBC’s Horrible Histories’ Christmas performance Horrible Christmas recently arrived at The Lowry, Manchester, a show for all ages that has elements of a traditional pantomime, but that is original and innovative. The show is funny and educational, with intelligent humour that is reminiscent of Monty Python at times, launching with a song and dance routine about the Puritans, and their aversion to Christmas. What this approach does is encourage children to ask who the Puritans were, and why they felt that Christmas was worthy of being banned.

The plot itself is relatively simple and focuses on a little girl, Wendy Watson, who, on Christmas Eve, witnesses what she first thinks is Father Christmas delivering her presents. She then watches from behind the couch, however, as the visitor rips open her presents and starts destroying them. He reveals himself as Sydney Claws, who, with his side-kick Rudolph, plans to spoil Christmas. He then announces to the audience, via a song, how nasty he is, and how he hates anyone having fun. Rudolph challenges him, by stating that he will be unable to destroy hope and love, which are the key components in the spirit of Christmas. Sydney then declares that he will indeed manage to do this, by going back in time and preventing Charles Dickens from writing A Christmas Carol the way that it was published, with Scrooge finally seeing the error of his ways, and deciding to give up his bitterness, and help those less fortunate.

This is where the history aspect of the play really begins, as audiences know that the characters will travel to a point in the past, allowing for the setting to reflect Victorian England. With Sydney all set to succeed, what is needed is someone to stop him from carrying out his dastardly plan. Wendy wastes no time in making this known, and in a short soliloquy asks the audience what she should do. The answer soon arrives, in the form of a detective called Shirley Holmes, who has a magic magnifying glass that allows her to solve problems and a very special hat, that is a ‘deer-stalker’, meaning she knows exactly where to find Sydney and, his partner in crime, Rudolph . . .

With the plot now set, the pace picks up and silliness ensues, meaning that it is a race to see who can get to Charles Dickens first, to either ensure that A Christmas Carol remains the story we all know and love today, or, becomes altered, meaning that a renewed interest in Christmas in Victorian Britain is rendered. As expected, things don’t go to plan, for either side, and what ensues is a thoroughly enjoyable show, with fine acting, historical accuracy and Christmas cheer for all the family.

Horrible Christmas runs until Sunday 8th January. For tickets and information, visit The Lowry website

About the author / 

Benjamin Francis Cassidy

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