REVIEW: BRAINIAC LIVE! (Garrick Theatre) ★★★

The Brainiac TV show ran for six series from 2002 to 2008 and since that date Incidental Coleman has produced a touring version for theatres. The idea is the same: to make science interesting for young children. This August the latest version “Brainiac Live” performs at the Garrick Theatre in the heart of the West End in matinee performances before the David Mamet play Bitter Wheat takes over in the evening.

The secret of the show is to carry out experiments that are explosive, dangerous looking and support the tag line “strap on your safety goggles boys and girls!”. It promises to stage daredevil stunts to amaze the young audiences and along the way teach them something of the mysteries of science.

The cast of three lead the mayhem with Andy Joyce, a Brainiac regular and now director of the show, Rik Warren, another 10-year veteran of the show and newcomer Maggie Frazer, known as Raz, presenting an hours’ worth of experiments.

My personal highlight is the best way to spin an office chair, where they see whether it can spin quickest by manual propulsion (10 spins), CO2 propulsion (17 spins) or a Pyro attached to the chair while Andy Joyce sits in it.

They demonstrate whether it is easier to run through wallpaper, plasterboard or a net and later connect themselves to an electric fence which both create dangerous looking stunts.

There are plenty of explosions throughout the show as Nitrogen and Oxygen are ignited, so expect noise culminating at the end of the show with the trademark exploding microwave (although on this occasion it looks more like a special effect rather than an actual explosion).

Just as you worry about your hearing, they carry out an experiment involving the whole audience standing until they can no longer hear the sound vibration test as the audio frequency is raised over 18,000 hertz, the limit of human hearing.

The presenter’s energetic daredevil presentation, like slightly mad lab assistants, gets cheers of support from the audience and is highly entertaining. Ideal for 8 to 14-year olds but fun for older children too!

Reviewed by Nick Wayne

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