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Sunderland born author Terry Deary returns to where it all began, with an appearance as Zeus, in the stage version of his best selling children’s book. A packed Sunderland Empire also had the chance to learn about history’s great thinkers.Add in some 3D special effects and you have an efficient family show.
Groovy Greeks begins with a family arriving late for the show who get told by the offstage god Zeus to come on stage and explore the history of the Ancient Greeks. In a similar fashion to the tv series: the stage show uses a number of familiar television formats to present the stories. So we are given the Battle of Troy in a Simpson’s like way, Greek medicine as Casualty and a battle of the gods as Britain’s Got Talent.
The Neal Foster penned script tries to produce an entertaining and engaging trip through this period of history. Matthew Scott has also composed a number of songs to tie up each individual story. The main cast of four frequently break through the fourth wall and interact with the audience. The younger members of the audience sounded highly appreciative of the chance to do their bit for the show.
The cast have a tricky gig. They have to entertain the CBBC generation, used to, as they are, fast paced shows full of hi-tech innovations. They also have to keep the parents happy too. Evelyn Adams, as young Alice, and understudy Andrew Alton, as Young Rob, act on a level with the kids. Holly Morgan and Tom Moores play the Mum and Dad but are more like the actors in the Horrible History tv series rather than a pair of soap opera parents. They dress up and perform the individual skits, evening donning Simpson-like wigs to help emphasis the tv format that they’re emulating.
The audience were much more engaged in the second act. The arrival of “3D Bogglevision” meant scary creations like spiders and Boris Johnson (yes, really!) could leap from the stage. During the BGT-style ‘Gods have got talent’ section Horrible Histories author Terry Deary himself appeared as Zeus. He sang a song in tribute of his native Sunderland which pleased many of the adults however of number of the younger people thought he was the panto bad guy and started booing. This was somewhat bizarre however he got a rapturous applause at the end followed by a very long queue of fans who wanted to meet him. To his credit he sat and autographed books for his many fans.
Groovy Greeks ticks a number of boxes. It entertains and educates the pre-teens.It will encourage them to view history as fun. The 3D is exciting for them too. Whilst the tv show has an award winning appeal to adults too, this show feels like it was just written with the kids in mind. If that is the case then it was a success.