Any adults planning to take their children to see Science Museum Live might do well to take a couple of paracetamol with their pre-show drinks. From the hand-clapping, foot-stomping opening to the chest-vibrating explosive climax, this family show whips its young audience into an increasing frenzy with every fizz, pop and bang.
Part-science lesson, part-children’s party, the show’s premise is simple: to demonstrate science in the most spectacular way permissible on stage. With two enthusiastic presenters taking us through the experiments, video clips of the real Science Museum and heaps of audience participation, the whole experience feels like an episode of Brainiac de-camped to a holiday park kid’s club.
Running around a set resembling a giant game of Mouse Trap, the two performers take the tone of children’s TV presenters: they are boundlessly energetic and, therefore for the adults in the audience, equally irritating. Whilst deftly handling their myriad of props and very skilfully controlling the excited young crowd, there is a sense that the performers are merely going through the motions as far as the text is concerned. The delivery of lines is somewhat robotic, meaning that in places the sing-song explanations for the onstage explosions are lost.
Not that the children in the audience seem to mind this at all. Shouting out answers to questions, waving maniacally for the chance to participate and shrieking delightedly at the jokes about big bums and pant-wetting, on the night I attended they were genuinely entertained, revelling in the authorised anarchy within the auditorium.
There are some charming moments amongst the chaos, most notably the reading out of inventions written by the audience in the interval and the glee with which those who participate onstage do so, On the night I attended, a small boy called Joe completely stole the show whilst piloting a make-shift hovercraft.
The overall verdict from my young companion was that she “learnt a lot even though the presenters were annoying”. Although it might be a bit hit and miss in places, there are lots of good reasons to take your kids to see Science Museum Live. Just make sure there’s a dark room that you can lie down in afterwards!