By Debbie Cannon
Marvellous Medicine, the début show from Resonant Science at theSpaces @ Surgeons’ Hall offers an entertaining and likeable 45 minute tour through the science of bacteria and inoculation. And while its target audience may be children, the grown-ups seemed to be enjoying themselves just as much as their youngsters.
This whistle-stop trip through science and history is presented by Alistair Linsell (an award-winning science communicator) and postdoctoral researcher and stand-up Kate Cross, who greet the audience at the entrance to their performance space, handing out stickers the significance of which becomes obvious later on. This is a slickly scripted show, which immediately engages all of its audience with clear explanations and amusing analogies. Many of the favourite techniques of children’s theatre are used well: there’s lots of audience participation, several opportunities for the kids to get involved on stage, and there are lollipops for everyone (or at least there were at this stage of the run). The stories of the scientists’ discoveries are dramatised by the two presenters, using props and basic costume. There are also some simple but nicely used glove puppets – and two dinosaurs.
Kate Cross and Alistair Linsell have different strengths that contribute to an appealing double-act. While Linsell clearly relishes getting stuck into the dramatic and comedic possibilities of the show, creating funny characters with energy and enjoyable silliness, Cross is an excellent communicator, whose eyes seem to light up when she’s finding ways to explain the science behind the fun. Both establish a good rapport with the children in their audience, and deliver their lines with great comic timing.
The dramatised sections, while they’re great fun, are the weak link at the moment. The show is performed in a really tiny black box space, and action seems constrained here. There’s not really anywhere for characters to move to when they attempt to leave a scene, for example, and this produces an unfortunate awkwardness at times. There’s also occasionally a sense of discomfort in the acting which would almost certainly be absent if being performed by professionals. These are issues which can be resolved with experience and different venues, however.
The show received an enthusiastic response from our audience, who warmed quickly to both presenters. It may not be the most polished performance at the Fringe, but it’s worth seeing for its sense of fun, its energy, and its excellent communication of science.
The review from my son: “Fun show that is a good mix of science and a usual show, and mixes in dinosaurs to create a good event”