Review: 5***** The Festival of the Spoken Nerd – Just for Graphs 2 @udderbellyfest

#Tweetingit – Inclement weather & technical difficulties didn’t spoil the graphs and laughs.  Couscous, fire and Philae.  What more would you want?

I expected to write this review chatting about Cool Nerds – you know, the ones who have sprung up everywhere of late and the cerebral version of the Cool Girl as outlined by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl – but to do so wouldn’t do justice to either the coolness or the nerdiness of this trio.

Unashamedly smart, but with a huge sense of fun, they led us through an hour of very entertaining, if basic, scientific entertainment.  We laughed hard but didn’t learn much.  That said, we were watching a show in an upside-down purple cow, not at school, so it did deliver exactly what we’d hoped.


Steve started the show explaining waves, exhorting the audience to demonstrate in the form of Mexican Waves, not only managing to show how wave patterns combine but also that if you’re not into audience participation this might not be the show for you.  Fortunately, we were surrounded by those who like to join in so this went without a hitch.  Not so the next part of his demonstration, which was beset by technical difficulties that were so effortlessly mocked and heckled by Helen and Matt, his fellow nerds, that I still don’t know whether they were intentional or not.  His finale was worth waiting for, however, as he demonstrated wave form with fire.  What better medium for, frankly, anything?  Or at least I thought that was the case until he demonstrated sound waves using couscous, a metal plate and a violin bow.  Genius.

Whilst Steve was tinkering we were treated to one of Helen’s musical interludes.  She has a great talent for comedic, topical songs and there was a hint of Amateur Transplants as she rewrote one of the songs from Wicked to suit the subject matter.  Bravo, Helen, you’re quite the entertainer!  The whole audience were in stitches during your songs and the chatter in the loos afterwards was all about your Wicked rewrite!fotsn

Matt, when not being king of the witty putdowns (particularly to Steve), was our resident mathematician who provided some very entertaining and amusing work on magic squares, which aren’t like Sudoku (they are, kinda) due to some form of mathematical snobbery.  His speedy mental arithmetic on a flip chart doesn’t sound like something worth watching, but was both engaging and hilarious in its delivery.

Joining together in a finale number, inexplicably about love, the trio ramped up the mockery of one another and managed to pull together all of their separate demonstrations, more fire, more laughs, advertise their next shows and plug their new Radio 4 show (Domestic Science, to broadcast in July) quite seamlessly set to music.  Quite the feat!

All in all a very entertaining night, could have had a bit more science and we’d definitely have been happier with a longer show but entertaining, nerdy and accessible.  Bravo.

Next showing 15th June and 13th July

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Reviewer: Hannah Tillyer









Published by Playhouse Pickings

Theatre blog run by Rhiannon; a civil servant, D&D player, sci fi fan, immersive theatre lover and gin enthusiast

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