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Horrible Science (tour – Cambridge)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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I hated science (biology and chemistry) 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 (Sarah Nightingale). authoritarian Belinda Buzzoff (Laura Dalgleish) and bespectacled N Large (Benedict Martin); they also appear as some particularly virulent bacteria. Vocally present is Tim (The Intelligent Machine) (Neal Foster) 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.


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