Review: Horrible Science at Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

Billy Miller gets up close and personal with bacteria

Billy Miller gets up close and personal with bacteria - Credit: Archant

I’ve decided I want to live the rest of my life in Bogglevision.

At the risk of spending all eternity – or at least the remainder of my three-score years and ten – having virtual turds and catapulting astronauts flying at me at speed in vibrant colour, I think it’s worth it.

You see, the sheer joy that comes from being in a theatre surrounded by young screams of joy and, yes, unbridled fear is one that’s going to stay with me for probably far longer than the ache in my ribs I’m currently experiencing. And the best thing is, throughout all the screams, laughter and pantomime calls, we all learned something about some of the things that make this world a brighter, more beautiful and, yes, stinkier, place.

On the opening night of Horrible Science at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre, eight-year-old Carmen and I take our seats ready to be entertained and informed by Professors Wanda Wye, N Large and Belinda Buzzoff. A young chap in the audience, who seems a little taller than the members of the scout troupe we’re sitting near, raises his voice, asking to have his scientific questions answered. Our hero, Billy Miller (aka actor Iain Ridley), has a burning need to know how big bacteria are, how gravity works and a squillion other science posers, but the professors are struggling to answer his queries.

Queue TIM (The Intelligent Machine), a booming voice from on high who threatens to unleash super-sized nasties upon the human race to make them better understand science… unless Billy – with a little help from the audience – can answer his questions.

The audience participation – and maddeningly catchy songs – makes this a hugely fun and educational evening’s entertainment. Carmen was howling with laughter in the first half, and then by the second half – with our Boggle Goggles in place – we were both screaming and crying with laughter (and I’m not exaggerating).

The effects were brilliant, the cast were spot on, and we learned plenty about the parts of science that children really want to know about but teachers are seldom allowed pass on.

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I see that the brilliant Birmingham Stage Company is bringing us a Horrible Histories ‘Barmy Britain’ tour in 2014. If it’s half as good at Horrible Science, I’ll be there for some rib-tickling, gruesome learning!


Horrible Science is at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, until Saturday, September 28. Box office: 01242 572573; find out more about Horrible Science and The Birmingham Stage Company visit