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Interview with Neal Foster – Horrible Histories The Best of Barmy Britain

Neil Foster
Neil Foster

We all want to meet people from history. The trouble is everyone is dead!
So it’s time to prepare yourselves for a special production of Horrible Histories featuring your favourite characters from our barmy past to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Barmy Britain in the West End!

Could you beat battling Boudicca? Will King John be a martyr for the Magna Carta? Will you lose your heart or your head to Henry VIII? Can Parliament survive gunpowder Guy? Light up your life with the great fire of London! Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria!
It’s the history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!

Neal Foster is the actor and manager of the Birmingham Stage company and he recently chatted about the production. This is what he had to say.

Q: What can you tell us about Horrible Histories – The Best Of Barmy Britain?
Neal: It’s a fabulous romp through 2,000 years of British history concentrating on the naughty, nasty, rude, gory, disgusting and crazy things that have happened on this little island since the Romans invaded.

Q: Which characters do you play and do you have a favourite?
Neal: I play a very mean Roman, the cruel King John, a gory gravedigger, horrible Henry VIII, gunpowder Guy Fawkes, the baker who set fire to London, brutal Burke and finally awesome Prince Albert. I think Burke is my favourite. He was such a charmingly awful man who murdered sixteen people in twelve months and sold their bodies for money. He did it with his friend Hare, who shopped him to the police. You can occasionally still buy small boxes made from Burke’s actual skin!

Q: How effective do you think Horrible Histories is as a learning medium?
Neal: I think it’s one of the best ways of learning ever created If you can make people laugh, it means they understand and if they understand and find it funny, it’s much more likely to be memorable. We have hundreds of adults come up to us after the show saying they expected to go to sleep but found themselves enjoying it even more than the children!

Q: Do you have a favourite sketch from the production?
Neal: Terry Deary wrote a wonderful sketch about Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn and it was in the first show we ever toured back in 2005 when we started touring Horrible Histories. It’s still one of our favourite scenes and is always hugely popular when it appears in Barmy Britain.

Q: What is next for Horrible Histories live on stage?
Neal: Your next horrible outing should be to see Horrible Christmas at The Lowry in Salford in December, but if you live in Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore you can also see Barmy Britain and Awful Egyptians touring those countries too!

Q: Why should everyone get along to see Horrible Histories – The Best of Barmy Britain?
Neal: If you want 70 minutes of fun, facts and fantastic costumes, then Barmy Britain is one of the best things you’ll see this summer. And if you’ve got the plague, the show will tell you how to cure yourself, although you’ll need to bring along a chicken so we can shave its bottom and strap it to your neck. Who needs the NHS when you’ve got Horrible Histories!

Neal Foster is Actor/Manager of The Birmingham Stage Company. Since its foundation, the BSC has staged over seventy productions and become one of the world’s leading producers of theatre for children and their families. During the BSC’s twenty-four year history, Foster has performed roles including Grandma in George’s Marvellous Medicine, the title role in Skellig at The New Victory Theatre, New York, Storey in Awful Egyptians (Sydney Opera House) and Rex in Barmy Britain (Garrick Theatre and Sydney Opera House). As a director, his work includes Fantastic Mr Fox, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Jungle Book (all national tours) and Barmy Britain – Part One! Two! And Three! (Garrick Theatre), all of which he co-wrote with Terry Deary. He’s most recently adapted and directed the national tour of Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.

Book tickets for Horrible Histories – The Best of Barmy Britain at the Apollo Theatre
Running time is 70 minutes
Age range is 5+
Booking From: 5th August 2016
Booking Until: 3rd September 2016

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  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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