BrainSex
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 12th Aug 2013
  • |
  • ★★★★

It’s official – science is now sexy. Thanks to media-friendly academics like Professor Brian Cox or Dr Alice Roberts it’s now cool to understand why the world around you does the things that it does. Finally, the geeks have inherited the earth.

Yet while we see a rash of new shows dedicated to uncovering life’s mysteries – why are humans the way we are? How much of our character is bred into us and how much is due to the influences that shape us? Are women and men truly from different planets? – we are still far from finding any solution. In BrainSex Timandra Harkness attempts to answer these questions.

As a self-confessed anomaly – dresses like a woman, thinks like a man – Harkness has a stake in this question. After all, if her brain is intrinsically different to a bloke’s brain then shouldn’t there be certain behaviours just built in?

Harkness is well-suited to presenting this material. Whilst she herself may not be an expert on the brain she provides a witty structure for her interviews with the experts themselves, such as the University of Plymouth’s Dr Martin Coath (apparently also the show’s musical director – clever clogs…) and her comic timing is excellent.

Whether it’s through the medium of a French ballad, bemoaning the uncertain nature of consciousness from behind a beret and (electronic) Gauloise or mocking the ‘emotional recognition’ actor she sprinkles the dry facts that form the basis of the show with a touch of humour which doesn’t attempt to teach but simply points out the interesting and lets you gravitate towards it. Let’s also not forget that it’s not every performer who would put both their money and the chance of an electric shock on the line simply to illustrate the principle of risk-aversion…

Needless to say the show isn’t an unqualified success. For example, Harkness’ frequent costume changes serve as a bit of a distraction, possibly just providing her with something to do other than simply standing there while one of her collaborators explains a certain complex point. While it’s obviously a difficult balance to strike, I couldn’t help but feel that certain sections, such as Man V Mouse, were a little light on actual content.

Nonetheless, these criticisms aside, BrainSex is an engaging, informative and self-improving hour which will leave you stuffed with new facts and a thirst for more.

Reviews by Tom King

Underbelly, Cowgate

Lucy Farrett: Lois

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

She Sells Sea Shells

★★★★
Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square / Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Men read maps better, but women read emotions - so say brain scientists. Is the key to human behaviour inside our skulls? ‘A deadly wit’ (Scotsman). 2010: ‘exponentially funny’, **** (ThreeWeeks). 2012: ‘entertaining and unique’, **** (ThreeWeeks).

Most Popular See More

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets