Edward James

Review: Gordon Southern: A Brief History of History – Baltic Square, Gateshead Quays

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Gordon Southern’s Brief History of History is exactly that.

It’s a comedic lesson taking in all of history through pre-history, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Christianity and the beginnings of the ongoing Middle-East crisis, the Middle Ages, the rise of Islam, Norman Conquest, the Hundred Years War, Chinese modernisation, the European Renaissance, foundation of America, Lutherism, the Spanish Armada, The British Empire, revolution in France and America, the Napoleonic Wars, Industrial Revolution, WWI and the Russian Revolution, WWII and the onset of modern technology, and ending in 1989.

Because, apparently, that’s when history ends.

With all that to get through, with the aid of a powerpoint presentation, sounds cues, skits, sketches, impressions, and even the occasional bout of rapping, the show is incredibly fast-paced and Southern delivers it with the necessary energy to keep it entertaining throughout.

Southern plays the “groovy supply teacher” role, complete with a smart-casual look, liberal use of puns, and gold stars to dish out to audience members with the correct historical knowledge.

A large feature of the show are the audience members chosen, seemingly at random, to represent a Scot, an Australian, an American, and a qualified Historian.

With so many techniques crammed into such a short set there is an intense feel to the show, but Southern’s tight writing, natural wit and charm help glue the concepts together.

Date of live review: Sunday 6 October 2013