Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories
AJ Bell Stadium, Salford, December 26-27th 2020, and
Aintree Racecourse, Dec 28; 75min (no interval)
Nothing quite says theatre 2020 like packing a hot water bottle and a flask - but this is the situation we find ourselves in preparing for our annual visit to the pantomime.
And not just any pantomime but a socially-distanced, Tier 3-approved drive-in show, thanks to Birmingham Stage and Car Park Panto's Horrible Histories: Horrible Christmas.
Not really a panto despite the marketing, but who's quibbling over minor details like this - such was the delight at being in the audience for a live theatre show, albeit inside our car.
A game cast of eight plays a variety of roles, clearly relishing being back on stage - with the production also shown on big screens for those vehicles a bit further back. Audio was streamed into cars via their radios and all the audio-visual elements worked very well (we particularly liked the pre-show Christmas quiz).
As for the show, when Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red (no, not that one), it's up to a young boy to save the day - but can he save Christmas? What do you think?
The show is packed with the Horrible Histories' trademark irreverence; from a rapping Charles II to a punch of sour-faced Puritans, with a bit of Charles Dickens and Holmes and Watson thrown into the mix too.
It's a very silly affair, packed with kid-pleasing fart jokes and Christmas cracker-style bad gags, as well as some very catchy songs.
Audience participation took the form of flashing your headlights and beeping your horn - and there was even a songsheet singalong - heaven for those of us missing the traditional panto standards.
So a different sort of theatre experience certainly, but definitely not a horrible one. And for families missing an annual festive trip to the theatre, it offers a funny and sometimes surprisingly moving experience.
Full details and tour dates here