Review – Ministry of Science Live – Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

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We all know that the best parts of Physics and Chemistry at school were the really exciting lessons where things were blown up. Well now, the Ministry of Science brings all that excitement, and a whole lot more, to a brand new generation of young would-be scientists (and their families), in their fantastic new live show.

Even before Mike and Emma, the two presenters, have burst onto the scene, explosions and fireworks are going off all over the stage, and I don’t mean cute little explosions, I mean bangs that literally shake the theatre!

The show looks at different types of energy and how they are used in the modern world and where better to start than with the heat, sound and light that is produced by igniting Methane bubbles. The heat and light came from the stage and the sound from hundreds of children who clap and cheer wildly, while wishing that they too could be up on stage having fun.

Some of those children get the chance to do just that as, after we see a very convincing demonstration of a human cannonball, the first young volunteers head up on stage to have a hair raising experience followed by an experiment using a Plasma ball to create Star Wars style light sabres – to a chorus of young boys all saying to their parents, “Can we do that at home?”

Under the disguise of a demonstration of sound energy we are next introduced to the word mondegreen. For those, like myself, who have never heard the word before, a mondegreen is a mishearing of a phrase (usually a song lyric), when the listener substitutes words that sound similar and we hear some hilarious examples, including  Sister Sledge singing “Just Let Me Staple The Vicar” and the simply terrific, “Oh Four Tuna” fron Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

To end the first half, a series of demonstrations are done using Liquid Nitrogen, giving the presenters more chances to have a lot of fun, make masses of theatrical smoke and, just in case we haven’t had enough, create another huge explosion.

The voiceover, X-Factor’s Peter Dickson, leads us into the second half by introducing some pirates and their weapons of war. The CO2 cannon fires foam balls into the audience, the hydrogen bottle rocket cannon fires empty two litre plastic bottles and finally a cannon which contains a smoke machine blows smoke rings over the heads of the, extremely excited, audience.

Before the explosive finale the presenters run through yet more experiments where they create a homemade hovercraft using household items, run through the entire periodic table in under two minutes (and on helium) and introduce us to the concept of renewable energy by creating a smoothie using pedal power.

The final scene where balloons, containing different mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen, are ignited to create a few more massive explosions is the undoubted highlight and, although they are all jumping out of their seats, the audience are screaming and shouting for more – although the ringing in my ears is just as loud!

Four Stars               ****

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About Author

I have lived in Sussex for the past 15 years and have links with many of the arts venues throughout the county. I am passionate about the local arts scene and, as well as providing reviews of local performances, I also preview some of the exciting shows and events taking place around the county. I have devoted all of my working life to the worlds of theatre and travel so, when I am not on holiday somewhere, you can usually find me at one of our superb local theatres, or simply enjoying life with my young son.

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