Theatre preview: Horrible Histories at the Hackney Empire

Terrible Tudors

Terrible Tudors - Credit: Archant

The naughty, rude and disgusting side of life in the Victorian and Tudor times will be brought to life on the Hackney Empire stage in a special adaptation of the Horrible Histories books.

Terrible Tudors

Terrible Tudors - Credit: Archant

Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians will see the same four actors and ground-breaking 3D special effects recounting episodes of history with the nasty bits left in.

Vile Victorians

Vile Victorians - Credit: Archant

Producer Neal Foster came up with the idea to adapt Terry Deary’s books for the stage in 2006, and believes it’s a fantastic learning experience but also a whole lot of fun.

“A lot of people think it’s all just about jokes but everything said is historical fact, and the 3D dimension adds a spectacular element to it, it’s very different to any other theatre show you have ever seen,” he said.

Theatre purist Mr Foster was initially against the idea of 3D effects when Terry Deary first suggested it.

You may also want to watch:

But once he saw what the special effects could achieve he was converted.

Special effects include Spanish Armada ships firing out cannons balls into the audience, and during the recreation of the 1879 Tay Bridge railway disaster, the bridge falls into the audience to give an “extra dramatic twist”.

Most Read

The Tudor show covers all the Horrible Henries, right up to Evil Elizabeth during their 100 year reign.

Henry VIII and the saga of his multiple headless wives is a key element of course, along with his punch-up with the Pope.

Meanwhile the Victorian period covers the invention of the sewers, the misery of the mines, the filth of the factories, the Crimean War and the case of Franz Muller, the first railway killer.

“The Victorians invented the railways but they also invented those compartments which were a great place to do terrible things to people, there was no walkway in the carriageway,” said Mr Foster.

“The show takes aspects of life and shows the horrible things that happen in them and the horrible things we don’t necessarily get told.”

Just four actors play every single character in both shows.

““Part of the fun is to see these four people changing hats, changing accents, changing costumes,” said Mr Foster.

“If you can imagine Tommy Cooper telling history, that’s what it’s like.”

The show is suitable for children aged five and older, but will apparently appeal just as much to adults.

The two shows run from Friday March 29 to Sunday March 31 at the Hackney Empire in Mare Street.

Terrible Tudors: Friday 29 and Saturday 30 at 2.30pm, Saturday 30 at 7.00pm, and Sunday 31 at 5.00pm.

Vile Victorians: Friday 29 at 7.00pm, Sunday 31 at 1.00pm.

Tickets cost from £10 to £20, phone 0208 9852424 or see

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter