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Theatre Review: You Can't Polish A Nerd @ Soho Theatre


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Stand-up comedian Matt Parker, TV scientist Steve Mould and singing scientist Helen Arney are on tour as part of Festival Of The Spoken Nerd. A fantastic night of comedy mixed in with science awaits you. 

Mould and Parker both have wives who are "enablers" apparently and that is shown with some fascinating, quirky experiments. Want to know what happens when you put certain everyday items a microwave? Want to see experiments involving π and actual pie? Well, this is the show for you.

Arney meanwhile sings some quite frankly brilliant songs about science. There's one about bananas and the amount of radiation caused by the potassium in them. Hollaback Girl may be the most recognisable song featuring bananas but this is every bit as catchy.

The show takes place on a minimalist set, giving an intimate and interactive performance, and the trio's obvious intelligence is matched with sharp wit and quick thinking. They respond brilliantly to audience comments and enjoy a friendly rivalry between themselves. A TV scientist isn't a real scientist, apparently. 

The show is colourful too. Science related songs play on stage before the troupe's entrance and there's a fascinating use of modern technology with the show ending with a display of spherical live streaming, creating a mind-boggling juggling display on the projector at the back of the stage.

The science involved might seem complicated, but it's explained in a very clear and simple way. Not once do you feel as though something is going over your head. From microwaves to gravitational waves, everything is explained. This is a show that can be enjoyed by nerds, people who are keeping a nerd company and people who just want something fun to do for an evening. I always tell people I didn't drop A Level Physics, Physics dropped me, yet I was never confused as to what was going on.

My only real criticism is the show seems awfully short. It lasts an hour, but it could really go on for a lot longer than that. The audience was definitely in the mood for more and it could have easily continued for another hour. But that does not take away from the brilliance of the show - an hour of pure unadulterated, fetishisation of everything nerd. 

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