The Penny Dreadfuls examine the life of Guy Fawkes, undertake a satirical version of the French Revolution and turn their comic eye towards Hereward the Wake.
The Penny Dreadfuls - Humphrey Ker, David Reed and Thom Tuck - are a comedy trio who specialise in retelling historical events in their own, inimitable way. In these riotous revisionist plays, they present alternative takes on three famous tales, ably assisted by guests including Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Marek Larwood, Justin Edwards, Miles Jupp, Richard E Grant, and Sally Hawkins.
Guy Fawkes: What exactly are we supposed to remember on the 5th of November? The Penny Dreadfuls take a fresh look at the build-up to and aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. Starring Kevin Eldon as Guy.
Revolution: The Penny Dreadfuls tell the epic story of the French Revolution – including the execution of the King and the slaughter of thousands at the guillotine - in just one hour, with jokes. Starring Richard E Grant as Robespierre and Sally Hawkins as Marie-Therese.
Hereward the Wake: Why has this Englishman, responsible for leading the fight against the occupation of William The Conqueror, been forgotten? The Penny Dreadfuls explain how the story didn't end when they ran out of embroidery cotton on the Bayeux Tapestry....
Produced by Julia McKenzie.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2017 Humphrey Ker, David Reed and Thom Tuck (P)2017 BBC Digital Audio
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"Cheap jokes + Torture = not for everyone"
The premise of these stories is a good one, and the performances, production values and general sound quality is excellent. There were some genuinely touching moments, for example when Guy Fawkes remembers his childhood, or revels in a memory of his previous gunpowder triumph on the battlefield, many years before.
But I disliked this production for several reasons.
Firstly, there were just too many cheap jokes. It really seemed as if all the cheap gags were sprinkled on afterwards to make it an 'easier listen'. The rest of the writing was genuinely witty,cleverly crafted, sensitive and historically informative.
The heavy handed laughter track made the audience seem like a baying mob, who cackled and guffawed at the many and prolonged jokes about torture and violence while ignoring all the more intelligent, genuinely witty stuff.
OK, it's true that a lot of history's major figures came to a sticky end, so that was always going to be part of these stories. And I normally have a very dark sense of humour, so I didn't expect to have a problem with that. But there was something about the way that great chunks of this production revelled in torture, and the snorting and guffawing audience sounded like their blood was up, eager to be in at the death. It was weird, and left a strangely unpleasant aftertaste.
Love the Penny Dreadfuls - so smart and very, very funny! very talented cast, mostly right on historical details as well.
"Laughs a plenty"
Very funny. Hereward the Wake is the pick of the bunch as is more a story than a collection of scenes. Wouldn't really say they are radio plays due to lack of plot but very funny and enjoyable all the same.
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