Review - Brainiac Live at the Garrick Theatre

Will Longman
Will Longman

"Look after your ears kids" is the conclusion of one Brainiac's experiment, testing the hearing capacity of the younger and older members of the audience and the frequencies they can hear.

Ironic, given moments later, she's mixing calcium carbide with water and setting it on fire to (loudly) launch socks into the crowd.

To be fair, that was modest in comparison to the hydrogen balloon she and her other Brainiacs have just exploded, after they chucked a two-litre bottle of liquid nitrogen into a barrel of boiling hot water.

Brainiac Live is the bombastic stage spin-off of the original Sky One experimental show, hosted by Richard Hammond, which put weird and wacky ideas to the test (memorable segments of the TV show include Jon Tickle walking on swimming pool full of custard, electrocuting people at work, and a lot of exploding caravans).

This one-hour show - brought to the stage by Andy Joyce, a runner on the first series of Brainiac - retains that sense of big-kid science, with experiments to find out what the best way to spin an office chair, and whether it's possible to run through plasterboard.

Its high-octane stuff presented by an energetic foursome enthusiastic about science. While Rik Warren and Maggie Frazer bring some cheesy laughs, Joyce is a temperate host, and all take you through the science of what's going on at a level that's insightful for all ages.

A word of warning, though: when I say it's loud, I mean it. If the kids didn't quite keep up with the jargon, they will love the bangs - but you might want to ensure you're sat with them, just to make sure they put their fingers in their ears.

As a piece of theatre, there could be more done to help the piece flow. While I know the theme tune, I'm not sure it conjures the same nostalgia in the majority of the audience, and doesn't need playing between every experiment. It was also a little weird playing the entire intro sequence which again, while cool, doesn't really have anything to do with the show we're about to see.

It might not inspire your little one to knuckle down in chemistry next term, but will raise their heart-rate for an hour. And any show that concludes with a kid blowing up a microwave can't be bad.

Brainiac Live is at the Garrick Theatre until 1st September. 

Brainiac Live tickets are available now. 

Photo credit: Anna Kucera

Originally published on

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