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Making past fun for parents and kids; REVIEW: Horrible Histories: Groovy Greeks, New Theatre, Cardiff.

IT'S not often that you get a chance to watch a TV show with broad enough appeal to keep children and parents alike happy - while also throwing in a spot of top-notch education for good measure.

Most primary school kids won't thank you for subjecting them to the postwatershed horrors of The Walking Dead or American Detective, while popular children's shows such as The Next Step have about as much parental appeal as Towie mixed with Strictly and acted out by the kind of shiny young US actors that make you want to barf.

Which is why Horrible Histories - after making the leap to the small screen from the hugely successful books - has been such a firm family TV favourite.

The trick has always been about breathing life into the world of the past in an enjoyable, accessible and novel way. And it's a trick that has been replicated in the latest stage show.

For those familiar with the TV show, this production neither shares the same cast nor slavishly follow the small screen format - so no "Stupid Death" or frenetic historical weatherman Bob Hale.

But part of this show's appeal is precisely that it is slightly more faithful to the original books, and still manages to give a fresh take on the ancient Greeks with a mix of madcap sketches, songs and some great gimmicks.

The kids' particular highlights from the show, performed admirably by an energetic cast of four, included a skit on the Trojan War in the style of The Simpsons (Homer - geddit?) complete with Helen as Marge, and the wellworked 3D effects that peppered the whole of the second half. As well as leaving youngsters leaping from their seats to avoid an imaginary sky full of falling arrows, giant spiders and the tentacles of giant squid, it really brought the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis to life.

Any show which can teach schoolkids about the Mycenaeans and the Minoans and still leave a smile on their faces two hours later is onto a winner.

Horrible Histories runs at the New Theatre until Saturday. Tickets are priced from PS11 Tryst Williams

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 19, 2015
Words:354
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