WHAT’S ON STAGE
I hated science at school. I bet I’m not alone in that. Mind you, if something like Nick Arnold’s Horrible Science series had been available, just perhaps I might have felt differently. Now the Birmingham Stage Company has interleafed Mark Williams’ stage adaptation into its Horrible Histories sequence.
Visually this show is even better than the history ones. Amazing Interactives’ 3D effects take up almost the whole of the second half, and do so splendidly, while throughout th human characters take us through the framing science theme-park in the style of a video game. Billy Miller is the lad with all the questions and Gareth Warren makes him likeable as well as determined.
Helping, and occasionally hindering, are three professors. There’s pig-tailed Wanda Wye, authoritarian Belinda Buzzoff and bespectacled N Large they also appear as some particularly virulent bacteria. Vocally present is Tim (The Intelligent Machine) who sets Billy challenges which he has to use science, not to mention quite a lot of help from the audience as well as the professors, to meet.
The sound effects are spot-on and Phil Clark’s direction whirls us along through microbes and body bits (cue Baron Frankenstein), electricity and gravity with the necessary safety warnings (what not to try unsupervised at home) made both explicit and palatable. I suspect that the “oldies” enjoyed it almost as much as the“young’uns” – I know that I did.
“If they had taught science in school like this I think even I might have understood it! This show has the awful answers to entertain and enthral. My son said it’s the best birthday treat he ever had.”
Theatreworld Internet Magazine
"The first half is fun, the second half is truly fantastic, proving to children and adults that science may be horrible, but fascinating too! It can’t fail to switch your children onto science". The York Press - 23 Sept 2010
A wonderful treat of horrid science
I'd always thought flushing the toilet with the lid on was the most hygienic solution for disposing of unmentionables. Not any more.
A host of unpleasant substances and germs spurt out of the small gap across the room in Birmingham Stage Company's version of Horrible Science. In a special effects tour-de-force, bacteria, electricity, body functions and gravity came spectacularly to life as a giant screen and 3D 'boggle glasses' had you diving to avoid a hail of disgusting creatures and objects sallying forth into the theatre. It had to be seen to be believed.
The largely young audience loved it, whooping, shouting and joining in.
If the special effects were the star, the cast of four were a close second, taking you seamlessly and believably into the science theme park.
It's hard to single out any actor but Gareth Warren came across with utter conviction as Billy Miller, even looking exactly like a schoolboy despite being an adult. And you would hardly believe the confident Sarah Nightingale was making her stage debut as Professor Wanda Wye.
Mark Williams' adaptation from a book of facts was as stunningly imaginative as the production, creating a story out of nowhere framed by the sinister narration of Neal Foster as a machine threatening a terrible fate for mankind.
You never noticed time passing. Try it – but remember, going to the loo will never be quite the same again.
"Science seems at once the horriblest, most brilliant subject in the world in this squelchily amusing multimedia show!" - The Stage
WHAT THE TEACHERS SAY
Fun, informative and very entertaining! The science concepts were clearly explained and so many elements of science were covered. It helps give a context to these areas in a way we could never achieve in a classroom.
Kingswood House School, W Sussex
The show is excellent. We particularly liked the range of topics and the clear explanations, with an emphasis on asking questions. The children were captivated and it gave us lots to talk about at school.
Bishopton Redmarshall Primary
Amazing, funny, interesting, scary and awesome!
Arundale School, W Sussex
Excellent. The children really enjoyed it. It brought science alive with a good choice of topic material. We hope it will be running again next year - we would definitely repeat the visit.
Rose Hill School
An excellent show. Lots of interesting facts presented so the children will remember them.
Littlegreen School, W Sussex