Things to do in the school holidays: Take a trip to the theatre
August 10, 2016
We’ve survived the first week of the school holidays (and my first time looking after 2 children all day every day for 8 weeks until Pip starts school in September). Slightly intimidated by what I see as a rather daunting job of providing activities day in and day out, I’ve been busy planning. I’ve been putting together a new series for The Little Pip Things to do in the school holidays – posts about ideas and things to do over the summer, or indeed, all the myriad half terms that will soon be on our radar.
Reflect on Barmy Britain in the wake of the Brexit decision & watch the Horrible Histories in the West End!
Don’t write off the West End as a bad place to take your kids over the summer. One of our favourite activities at any time of the year is to head to the theatre, usually either going out for lunch first, or afternoon tea afterwards. Obviously in our dreams every day in England is the hot sunny weather of our childhoods (!) but there has been known to be the odd cooler day which is when a theatre trip can be perfect.
Running from now until September, the Birmingham Stage Company is putting on Horrible Histories – The Best of Barmy Britain! This special production marks Barmy Britain’s 5th anniversary in the West End, holding its position as the longest running children’s show in West End history. This special instalment of Barmy Britain follows the sell-out successes of Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain – Parts One, Two and Three and features the horribly best bits from all three productions.
Could you beat battling Boudicca? Will King John be a martyr for 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!
We went yesterday – I took along Pip, LB (buggy & sling) and LB’s godmother who is a secondary school teacher and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Pip’s highlight was the party queen Victoria (above, I won’t spoil it) played by the excellent Alison Fitzjohn. I loved her Boudica and enjoyed the Brexit jokes in the section about the black death. The format was a really compelling narration which evolved into various skits using costumes and props set up on the stage, involving singing, dancing, some gruesome actions and enough audience participation to keep people entertained but not so much as to be off putting.
I’m definitely not a history expert but it did seem to be pretty accurate, with a few fart jokes thrown in where possible for the younger members of the audience to enjoy. Some of the scenes went a little over Pip’s head, but the little boys in the row in front of us who must have been somewhere between 7 and 10 roared with laughter throughout.
The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed Edwardian West End theatre which has been showing plays since it opened in 1901. It feels small and perfectly formed inside, complete with red velvet seats and curtain. We sat in the dress circle, several rows back, and still had an excellent view of the stage. It’s also very handily close to Piccadilly Circus station, so you can literally come in and get out again afterwards, if the West End in general is not your thing but is also really near to lots of cafes, shops and restaurants and hotels if it is.
I can’t recommend the place that we went to for lunch beforehand but I can recommend the afternoon tea at Liberty Cafe which is where we went for a birthday tea for LB’s godmother afterwards – post coming up soon.
We got the tube down and had lunch first before the 2pm showing. We could have been back on the tube well before rush hour but we went out for tea, then met M after work and went out for dinner as well.