The Story of the Solar System, Live on stage; well, that’s got to be interesting. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was almost hoping for scantily-clad dancers singing ‘Venus is a hottie but Neptune just is nottie’. Or something like that. I was also a little concerned that I might be dragging my eleven year old along to see an aging lecturer presenting the equivalent of a collection of their favourite holiday photos on PowerPoint. It turned out to be very much like the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, a well-presented and informative talk delivered by Will Gater who has a real passion for his subject and a gift for communicating it, with lots of demonstrations, real meteorite rock and yes, lots of photos. It was great!
The eleven year old was engaged throughout, which is pretty good considering it was around two hours of show-and-tell with just a short break in the middle. We both learnt a lot about moons and asteroids and comets and how scientists worked out that there was once a brook on Mars that was probably around knee-deep and moved at 2-4 miles an hour. We saw demonstrations of large masses ‘bending’ space, and of comets making ray systems and of how much emptiness there is between earth and it’s moon.
Best of all, we have had conversations since then about all these things and others, about hydrothermic vents and life and dry ice and jet propulsion.
I loved this show. I loved seeing a talented science communicator making his knowledge accessible and interesting and passing his enthusiasm to the audience, and I loved that my slightly geeky eleven year old has come away with food for thought and the knowledge that it’s not just his mum who knows that maths is cool, physics is fascinating and that curiosity is a great thing.
I’d definitely recommend seeing this, and it looks like the show tours fairly regularly. You don’t even have to take a child – there’s plenty enough here for adults, and in fact there were less children in this sold-out show that I expected.
Will Gater has a website full of interesting facts and great photos
See What else is coming up at The Redgrave Theatre here