REVIEW: Giants of Science at the Georgian Theatre Royal

Howard Coggins and Stu McLoughlin (aka Living Spit) first visited The Georgian Theatre Royal a couple of years ago with their extremely funny show The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Great things were therefore expected of their latest historical offering The Giants of Science, which also had the honour of kicking off the Theatre’s new Spring and Summer season.

The show is delivered as a ‘lecture’ given by none other than one of the greatest of the scientific greats, Albert Einstein. Both Howard and Stu appear at the beginning as Einstein, a cunning device to attempt an explanation of the Theory of Special Relativity.

It worked on many levels, probably very funny to those in the audience who understood the Theory but equally funny in a slapstick way to those (myself included) who really didn’t have a clue! In fact, you didn’t really need any scientific knowledge to enjoy this show just the desire to suspend belief and have a laugh.

What followed was a whistle-stop tour of the history of scien-triffic greatness, starting with the Greek philosopher Thales and his prediction of the solar eclipse in 585 BC and ending with Einstein’s very ‘emotional’ death from an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1955.

During the madcap journey, we meet many giants from the world of science, including Galileo with his revolutionary telescope; Sir Isaac Newton with his famous apple; Mary Anning the eminent fossil hunter from Lyme Regis; Ada Lovelace who invented the first computer programme and, of course, Charles Darwin who appeared in a zany form of quiz show. All this was delivered with plenty of catchy songs, crazy comedy sketches and more jokes that you could shake a Bunsen burner at.

At the start, the pair confess that Howard knows nothing about science and Stu knows even less but by the end of the evening you are left with the impression that they actually do know quite a lot.

How else do you deliver such an abundance of material, with seeming authority, at such break-neck speed? The only downside was that it was all over too soon and (as they themselves acknowledged) there were many giants who were missed out – what about Archimedes, Marie Curie, Michael Faraday and Stephen Hawking? Perhaps that would make a great part two?

This was actually the last ever performance of Giants of Science, which has now come to the end of its tour. Taking their applause, Living Spit made a promise to be back in Richmond before too long with another comedic romp. If they do, I will certainly be along to see them.