Horrible Histories – The Groovy Greeks, by the Birmingham Stage Company, at the Chelmsford Civic Theatre

Just how groovy were the Ancient Greeks?

Well, we learned that their architecture was brightly coloured, their gods fiercely competitive, but their Olympics a tad underwhelming.

Four brilliant actors, a lively soundtrack and digital back-projection led us through the history and the heroes, with the main themes cleverly presented in the style of our favourite tv shows, all written and directed by Neal Foster.

Taking a cue from Homer, the Trojans also featured Marge as Helen of Troy, Bart as Achilles and so on. Slaves were sold on the shopping channel, the philosophers gathered in the Big Brother kitchen – Archimedes in the bathroom, Pythagoras with pi embroidered round his hem, Socrates evicted to drink hemlock.

Hippocrates starred in Casualty, with a guest appearance from young Stanley, whose earwax and snot were tested by tasting. [Not really, Mum.]

The BGT gods rather outstayed their welcome, though Zeus's Thunderball and Lightning number was one of the best things in Matthew Scott's score.

As in Terry Deary's books, there were loads of facts crammed in amongst the jokes about Boris, bums and bodily functions.

The Civic was packed with primary schools who screamed at the 3D spiders, voted Athena top god and sang along happily with Hannah Boyce, Ashley Bowden, Laura Dalgleish and Charlie Buckland.

By Michael Gray