Sammi O’Neill had a fun-tastic time recently when she talked to Evelyn Adams one of the cast from Horrible Histories which is currently on tour nationwide with two shows, Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders. Evelyn plays several characters in the two shows Mavis the Celt, Ariadne the daughter of King Minos, Aphrodite goddess of love and Socrates amongst others. She talked to Sammi about one character in particular and what is like being part of the Horrible Histories cast.
Evelyn Adams | Interview
The Horrible Histories books are a great way for children to learn history in a way that really appeals to them, taking part in the stage shows must be so much fun.
Oh my goodness, it is sooo much fun! The reaction that we get from the children and adults is great. The kids laugh and scream (but scream in a good way) during the course of the show. It is delightful to ‘horrify’ them in such a way.
The cast and crew are just fabulous and we have so much fun with each other, we make each other laugh on and off the stage. There are only four of us in the cast an and awful lot of hats, which we use to change characters. The crew is so great and extremely supportive. There are nine of us altogether, travelling around the country and we are really luck to have each other.
We’ll be on the road for 6 months and it is great that we adore each other as much as we do.
You are touring with two shows which run on different nights at each venue.
Yes we are performing Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders. Invaders is about all the various people who came and invaded Britain, Saxons Romans Vikings and a little touch of the Normans but we have to call it a day somewhere as there is so much material. We cover a huge chunk of history so we could go on for quite some time if we carried on.
Presumably you learn a fair amount of History yourself along the way.
We learnt quite a lot in rehearsals and we certainly now know all the gruesome bits!
Also as you learn about your characters it inspires you to go and discover a little bit more. If a person, place or event is mentioned in the show, it sparks your imagination to look to look things up.
Did you watch the Horrible Histories TV programme when you were young?
Oh yes. My favourites were always the Vile Victorians and the Awesome Egyptians. I loved the Victorian period because of the book. I also liked to show off to my parents that I knew a little bit more history than they did.
Why do you think Horrible Histories remain so popular with children?
It all works so well, the books are so cleverly written, the facts and the tunes stick in your head because you learn them in the most enjoyable way. You laugh and you are appalled at the same time. It is not a straightforward history lesson that you are learning by rote, you learn it almost accidentally because it is so much fun.
Terry Deary who wrote the books – is he involved in the stage show at all?
Yes he is, he is quite close to the project and is in touch with the director. He is actually going to join us for the Groovy Greeks show in Sunderland where he lives. He loves the shows and gets very excited by them.
He also has the illustrator Martin Brown will join us when we were in Bournemouth because that is where he is based. So it is quite a tight knit family, and everyone is always excited by the new productions. It is like a big family company. And great fun! I have done many silly roles in my career but this is quite possibly the silliest.
If I asked you about all your characters we would be here for ages, tell me about just one. Give me a quick history lesson.
(in character) I am Ariadne daughter of King Minos of Crete!
Why is your story ‘Horrible’?
My father is not a kind person! He has many children, but there is a particular son was been born a Minotaur which is part man / part bull. So my father, King Minos locked this son in a labyrinth on an island which he could never escape and fed him children. He is a monstrous sort of a man.
He sounds horrible? what is your relationship with him like?
He has many children and so he attention is quite divided. He has given me a very difficult job. I am in charge of the labyrinth. Which I think for a greek Princess is quite a hard ask. I am in charge of the labyrinth that holds my brother prisoner. Which I think is a bit unfair.
Does he take much looking after?
Yes you could say that, he is quite demanding, he eats children!!! That is quite traumatic I must say.
But I hear you fell in love on the island.
I did indeed, with a rather heroic chap called Theseus. But I am afraid that it is not the most satisfyingly romantic story in the world. Thesus was heroic in his actions but not in matters of the heart.
Tell me the story.
Well we fell in love, or at least I believed that we fell in love, but in the end it didn’t work out so well. He came over to try and slay my brother; we had a little romance and essentially I betrayed my Father’s orders and helped Thesus kill my brother which was a huge deal!
The trouble is with the labyrinth is even if you could get in and find and kill the Minotaur, you might not be able to find your way back out. My cunning plan was to give him a ball of wool and start unwinding the wool at the beginning of the maze so that he could follow it back out afterwards – a trick similar to Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumbs. It wasn’t rocket science but amazing how other people didn’t come up with the idea.
This was the only reason that Theseus was able to kill the Minotaur and find his way out again.
But after all that, Thesus didn’t want me in the end and I didn’t end up with him.
Did he leave you on an island?
Let’s just say that it was not a good breakup and pretty horrible.
What on earth did you see in him?
I think if you were quite isolated on an island like me, you would realise that any man that turns up, particularly if he is strong and brave would seem quite attractive and you’d be quite taken with him.
But luckily Evelyn is having a wonderful time playing her and other characters in Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders as part of the Horrible Histories tour which is touring the country, including Croydon, Eastbourne and Brighton – you can find all the tour dates here.