Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction and purveyors of the finest stories from history, Mr Abs and Mr Alex, are on a mission to prove just that.
From their Old Curiousity Shop-themed marquee, this pair are like the Edwardian Adventurers that time forgot. One look at the scenery behind them shows that they’ve acquired some pretty odd stuff on their travels too. It’s not just there for show, however – rather, it inspires some remarkable tales of the past, mined from the richest seam of Man’s adventurous history.
As Mr Alex settles the audience into their seats or stokes up the blazing fire for an evening show, Mr Abs, chief raconteur and master of the silly voice, surveys his collection of curiosities and chooses the next tale. It might be Odysseus and the Cyclops, Guy Gibson and the Dambusters Raid or the French General after Waterloo who found himself turned into a rather dainty tea service!
The stories are dramatic, with bits of costume pulled out of tea chests and mood lighting courtesy of Mr Alex flicking switches. Then he’s draped in a bedsheet to become Mount Everest itself in the epic tale of Mr Maurice Wilson, MC: war hero and occasional transvestite, infamous for his 1934 attempt to conquer the mountain with absolutely no climbing experience whatsoever…
It’s not just by night these stories live. During the day they entertain school groups and visitors alike with their brand of science, art and history, served together in a heady mix of tale-telling with a difference: Mr Alex breaks out his 1860 Daguerotype camera to demonstrate a hands-on photography session from days gone by. Mr Abs is standing by too, creating his unique Gillray or Cruikshank-style caricatures of historical heroes on plywood, which will serve to man his stories as the days go on.
The History Tellers are fun and family-orientated, but their unique brand of cheerful stories and informed history is guaranteed to inspire everyone from Dan Snow to Joe Bloggs at this year’s History Festival.