Horrid Henry is the Just William of the 21st century. Books about him, penned by Francesca Simon, have sold 12 million copies in the UK alone, not to mention the popular spin-off CITV series. John Godber’s adaptation for stage follows the books closely and is full of witty stereotypes easily recognisable by children and parents. We all, for example, know the golden haired Perfect Peter (Alex Tregear), Henry’s goody-goody younger brother, and the strict, bespectacled Scots primary school teacher (Philip Bosworth) who referees a beautifully choreographed football match.
Henry - the story, such as it is, is presented entirely from his point of view - is double played with tremendous energy by Steven Butler and Stephen McGill, so that Henry can be in two places at once, see things from more than one angle and have an alter-ego. He is lovable, truculent, lithely clumsy, rough-voiced and self-centred in contrast to the sweet-voiced, tiresome Peter who does everything their parents (Rachael Swift and Philip Bosworth) want. They just smile approvingly at Peter and shout ‘Oh Henry!’ in an impotent chorus at his brother.
The show includes a bit of alarmingly loud rock music - one of the many things Henry’s imagination conjures up at will - and a ballet class which Henry, of course, subverts. The funniest sequence (for adults at least) is the sleepover at the grubby home of another boy whose manic parents are opera fanatics, and owners of two terrifying red-eyed dogs, one of whom is named Rigoletto.
It’s a glitzy entertaining show, with strong slick ensemble work that certainly delighted the full Friday night house of excited children I saw it with.