REVIEW: Brainiac Live (Garrick Theatre)

Between family theatre trips and an abundance of artistic after-school clubs (plus one before-school club that Mummy regrets every single time the alarm goes off) we sometimes wonder whether the munchkins are getting an entirely balanced extracurricular experience. So when it came to selecting shows to see in Kids Week, science on stage was a no-brainer. And thus on Friday, we headed off to the Garrick Theatre to see Brainiac Live, with Mummy happily humming a slightly amended version of ‘Maniac‘ from Flashdance to herself.

Having refused to buy the munchkins overpriced t-shirts on the way in, Mummy and Mrs Mummy managed to justify morning bellinis on the grounds of organic chemistry. Following the obligatory pre-emptive wee (on the basis of biology) we settled into our seats, where ‘Maniac‘ was quickly displaced by George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun‘. Mummy’s review writing has now been derailed by researching the science behind songs getting stuck in your head. (If interested, here’s one of many articles on the subject).

Whilst earworms did not feature in Brainiac itself, there was plenty of other interesting stuff on hearing, including a particularly entertaining section on misheard song lyrics. Although this relied heavily on being able to read lyrics on screen (probably a good justification for the 6+ age recommendation) it didn’t seem to stop Quaver howling away with the rest of us. The whole audience also got involved in a hearing test which pitted the young against the old (although Mummy, who is not remotely old and/or bitter, remains adamant that at least half the small humans of the audience – her own included – were lying when it came to the highest frequency noise).

Other memorable experiments included a man running full force into a range of materials (including plasterboard) and a rocket-propelled office chair. There was also a challenge involving giant Airzookas and just the right amount of blowing stuff up. Despite some helpful warnings to stick your fingers in your ears first, Mummy would recommend ear defenders for children who are particularly afraid of loud noises. She would also suggest not looking directly at the exploding microwave if you want to leave the theatre with your vision intact.

If Mummy were to be picky (in the name of scientific accuracy of course) she was somewhat disappointed that there was only one female Brainiac in the cast of four, and was not convinced that this was negated by describing Brainiac Raz as the cleverest of the quartet. Mummy and Mrs Mummy were both also uncomfortable with the impressionable audience being encouraged to peer pressure Brainiac Ned into taking part in one of the experiments. On the other hand, both agreed that watching Brainiac Dave and Brainiac Ed impersonate Beyonce was 100% objectively, and scientifically, hilarious.

In conclusion, Mummy reports that Brainiac is an enjoyable show which will retain the attention of small and large humans alike, if for no other reason than regular explosions being difficult to ignore. It’s quite different to anything else on in the West End and a very lively way to introduce children to science. The programme is packed with less dangerous experiments that can be tried at home, although Mummy admits that the only experiment she has so far repeated is the organic chemistry referred to earlier in this review.

RATING: Raindrops, Whiskers and Kettles (aka 3 out of 5 of my favourite things).