Harriet Munday appears in Birmingham Stage Company’s Terrible Thames, a unique immersive theatrical tour taking in prime historical locations such as The Tower of London, Parliament, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Golden Hinde.
It sets sail on Saturday 1 April and voyages until October 29 2023. Tickets are on sale here.
Neal Foster captains his crew Jake Addley, Rob Cummings, James Elliot, Andrew Franklin, Harriet Munday, Roger Parkins, Harry Sutherland, Dominic Treacy and Nathan Zammit on this maritime adventure, where audiences learn about the horrible history of London and the Thames.
You’re appearing in Terrible Thames, what can you tell us about the production?
The Terrible Thames is a 45 minute trip down the river filled with tonnes of factual stories from throughout history, songs, sea shanty’s and lots of laughs.
This isn’t your first time in the production, what made you want to come back?
I can definitely think of worse ways to spend the summer season! I had so much fun last year but was also on tour with the Terrible Tudors so had to split my time between the two shows. I am relishing the opportunity to focus fully on the Thames this year. Seeing the audiences reactions up close is so incredible and watching both the children and adults laughing and singing along makes every show feel like the first. Coming back again this year was a very easy decision to make.
Tell us about some of the characters you play, and what you enjoy most about them?
The main character I play is Billy, a student on a school history trip. She is boisterous and cheeky with family ties to the river and lots of knowledge to share. Billy is a great character to play and I love making the audience laugh whilst being a bit of a nuisance for the character of the teacher.
I feel like I get all the children in the audience on side very quickly and get to have a lot of fun during the show. We talk about all sorts of historical figures with links to the Thames from Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to Boudicca to Captain Kid, Olaudah Equiano and Sir Francis Drake to name a few.
I enjoy the fact that the Thames is still a working river that is still just as integral to London as in the stories we are telling from hundreds of years ago. And best of all, in the true style of Horrible Histories, we definitely don’t shy away from the gory details!
What’s it like performing on a boat, do you need to think about your performance differently?
Yes, there are definitely a lot of different factors to consider compared to performing on a regular stage. The biggest and, in my opinion, the most interesting thing we have to think about is the tides and speed of the river, as we have to change the structure of our show accordingly to ensure we are telling stories about the landmarks when you can see them.
This can change each show depending on whether the tide is coming in or going out. It definitely keeps us on our toes as almost every show is different and you have to have a lot of trust in your partner and work together moment by moment to keep the show flowing smoothly.
How big a difference do you think it makes for audiences actually being able to see the landmarks during the performance?
I think It makes a huge difference for the audience – I doubt many other shows can say that the actual London landscape is their backdrop. I really feel that this makes the history come alive and gives the audience the chance to relive the stories where they actually happened. Horrible histories has always been known for bringing history to life and seeing the landmarks during the performance definitely takes that to another level!
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking Terrible Thames?
I don’t know of anywhere else in London where you can have this much fun whilst learning about the city’s history in 45 minutes. The fact that you get to do all of that AND you’re on a boat should be all you need to know to book your ticket!