HORRIBLE Histories bought their production, Groovy Greeks, to The Lowry this week. Quays News entertainment reporter Flynn Murnan went along…
From the Savage Spartans to the Angry Athenians, Groovy Greeks takes us back through time to ancient southern Europe to make us laugh and help us learn about their whacky ways.
The production starts with its cast of four fumbling around at the front of the theatre as if they are a family trying to find their seats. It soon becomes clear that they are the stars as their drama school voices become more and more obvious and they are hailed up to the stage by the voice of Terry Deary, the author of the Horrible Histories books. Deary takes on the voice of Zeus, the king of the gods and challenges the family to go back in time with him and try and survive in ancient Greece.
The trip starts off in Crete under the rule of king Minos, Zeus’ son and the cast rip into a song explaining how the first Greeks were the Mycenaean’s. Zeus then carries on to explain that the Mycenaean’s went to war with the Trojans and this spawned the first ever poem “roses are red, violets are blue…” he compares to Homer’s Iliad for the ease of a predominantly pre-high school audience.
The Trojan section of the show kicks off with a Simpsons’ spoof which explains how the Trojan War started, with Marge, Homer and Bart playing Helen, Paris and Achilles. The cry of “Doh” when Paris lets the infamous Trojan Horse into the city is met with barrels of laughter from the children in the audience and a quiet chuckle from mum and dad.
Then onto Sparta and the “Hungry Games”- the son and daughter characters in the cast complain about the brutality of Sparta compared to somewhere like Athens. The Mum, who is made up like Effie Trinket of the Hunger Games, explains how children were kept hungry in Sparta and were only allowed to steal food but could not get caught doing so, and that men and women were taught to fight. Whereas, Athens was a thinking city in which you were taught Maths, Science and how to play the flute.
I think I'm enjoying myself too much watching Horrible Histories tonight @The_Lowry ☺️
— the sun (@nasimabee) April 6, 2016
Onto Athens and a spoof of day time TV shopping channels like QVC but instead of detachable mop heads and rug doctors, this one is selling Athenian slaves. The cast smile and banter exactly like you see on the TV whilst saying things like “when you buy a slave, it’s your property” and “don’t worry, if your slave has family, you can separate them.”
Since Athens was a pioneer of healthcare and medicine, what would the show be without a casualty sketch as well? The Mum plays a doctor that boasts of how nobody has ever died in the hospital (because they used to take dying patients outside) and during the next 10 minutes there is a lot of talk of various disgusting medical mistakes pioneered by Hippocrates, such as tasting snot and licking wounds.
After this, Pythagoras, Archimedes, Aristotle and Socrates are slung into the Big Brother house and the audience are treated to five minutes of jokes about the four worked into the dialogue. Such as, Archimedes in the bath shouting Eureka to Socrates being evicted and spouting the final words “we owe a chicken to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don’t forget.”
— Aviva (@veevadiva) April 7, 2016
In the second half we return with “bogglevision” glasses so that we can see the monsters and they didn’t disappoint as a massive imagine of Boris Johnson leapt out of the screen and terrified all the children, and me. Then we are treated to a fight in a labyrinth against a Minotaur with Theseus and more screams come from the stalls as all sorts of spiders and such leap out of the screen. Then, finally we are taken to the Spartan war with the Persians as in the film 300. Once again the stalls come to life with a blanket of children ducking and diving away from the Persians arrows.
The show runs until Saturday, April 9 at the Lowry Theatre.
By Flynn Murnan