Kings sought and found

Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Dateline: 12th February, 2016

As a non driver I, mostly willingly, escort my offspring to new places by train and so it was I found myself in Leicester on Wednesday with a couple of hours to kill before Mother was needed to buy food, make supportive noises and share the return journey (in that order).

Indulging my passion, I set about researching what theatre there might be—train times prohibiting the obvious choice of a matinée at The Curve.

In two hops on the Internet I found Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2016 and The 1000 Years Show.

Sited in Leicester's impressive Grade I Listed Guildhall, The 1000 Years Show is an entertaining way to spend 20 minutes or so listening to witty songs about important historic events in aptly agéd surroundings.

The show's writer and performer, Anthony King, has put together songs from existing shows of his focussed around pivotal events and characters of British history: The Magna Carta Show and The Agincourt Show and of course, being Leicester, The Richard III Show.

Short and humorous, the songs are linked by jokes and anecdotes appropriate for the family audience in attendance, and well suited to Anthony King's plans to develop his work for primary schools, something he is combining with writing his next show, Famous Leicester, about the City's native celebrities.

Whilst parallels may be drawn with Horrible Histories, I think King deserves something more, at the least to be judged on his own merits. His easy going raconteur style draws in his listeners with a gentle, rather clever wit, whilst Horrible Histories grabs at them with joyous tomfoolery. There is a place for both without the need for comparisons.

King's practiced delivery is no accident, it comes from 20 years on the comedy circuit, with and without his guitar, and when night falls on the Leicester Comedy Festival he can be found doing his stand up show The Search For A King.

The songs for this funny, but strictly grown up, show are more surreal and of a darker hue. For his adult audience he has been known to sing about apostasy and stealing other people's clothes (not at the same time), whilst the folk ditties of The 1000 Years Show are of a differently educational meter, covering topics like "The King In The Car Park" and "Who Owns The Bones?", about the competing claims to ownership of Richard III's remains.

These two songs sent me on my cheery way to the next stop on my itinerary, the Richard III Visitor Centre for which they proved an excellent overture, but if I were to be back in Leicester at the weekend, I would leave the hunt for those old bones behind to join The Search For A King.

The 1000 Years Show plays until 20 February (daily at various times) and The Agincourt Show plays on 21 and 28 February; free admission. Anthony King's full festival show, The Search For A King, plays on 19 and 20 February (suitable for adults) at 7:30PM. All at The Guildhall.