Simon Nock on Horrible Histories: 'The show brings a very anarchic, exciting telling of history through its many gruesome tales'
- Brian Donaldson
- 10 June 2019
Stage version of Terry Deary's best-selling children's books horrify and delight in equal measure
Audiences go through the gamut of emotions while attending a Horrible Histories stage show. One minute covering their eyes in terror, the next holding onto their tummies in case their most recent meal returns thanks to the horror unfolding, before laughing their heads – like two of Henry VIII's wives – right off.
Actor Simon Nock is unapologetic about the more gory elements in Birmingham Stage Company's Horrible Histories experience. 'The show brings a very anarchic, exciting telling of history through its many gruesome tales,' says the man whose CV includes appearances in both Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Black Mirror. 'I think its main weapon is that it doesn't pander to children; it shows the blood and gore, and through this it attempts, very successfully, to make history interesting. It's also enjoyed by children young and old, and an entire family can come and see our shows, have a brilliant time and learn a great deal.'
This most recent version of the brand, which came to brutal life thanks to the books by Terry Deary before making its way to television, is a double dose of nastiness with Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians. Which period does Nock reckon was the ghastliest? 'Tudor times were pretty horrible, especially with Henry VIII around, beheading wives! The conditions that ordinary people lived in were very grim and you didn't live that long. The Tudor period, though, lasted for just over 100 years while the pharaohs ruled for hundreds and hundreds of years. There must have been many more horrible things that a poor Egyptian would have to contend with, especially with some of those mad pharaohs around.'
King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 13–Sun 16 Jun, and touring.