By S Mulvihill
On the 5th June 1998, filmmaker, theatre practitioner and former theologian Jan van den Berg fell in love. Since then not a day has passed where he has not thought about this love. The object of his passion? Neutrinos. This in turn led him to follow the developments at CERN and the scientists striving to prove the existence of the Higgs-Boson particle. In this staged lecture performance he shares his fascination and knowledge, turning even the most un-scientific minded into devoted followers.
In a perfect venue for this show, the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at Summerhall, van den Berg starts his show with a looped film clip from Papua New Guinea, where he visited in 2006. There he discovered that the local people have always been, in their own way, trying to figure out the answers to the same questions that our Western scientists are in their laboratories. In a wonderfully narrative way aided by film clips and projections he talks us through his own journey, both mentally and physically, from his native Netherlands to Japan and to Geneva. Filled with facts about the LHC and particle physics van den Berg is a joy to listen to, partly because his sheer enthusiasm and passion for his subject are so infectious. It would be easy to restate the figures, statistics and measurements he taught us but then that would detract from the pleasure derived from learning them during the lecture.
The power of a show delivered simply but with utter conviction cannot be understated. Likeable and charming, Jan van den Berg manages to capture the significance, enormity and relevance of his subject in an easily accessible way. With a different member of the scientific community interviewed at the end of the performance every night (Professor Higgs is apparently to be a guest a few times during the run), this show is interesting and informative. Well worth the trip for something a bit different to the deluge of student drama societies and stand up comics that populate Edinburgh during August.