Mark Thompson's Spectacular Science Show

Mark Thompson is quite clear about what his (modestly) titled Spectacular Show isn't: "It's not a science lecture," he insists. "It's all about having a bit of fun with science." Though, obviously, it's fun with a "Don't try this at home" caveat, at least regarding some chemical reactions shown during the show. Science, he warns us all on several occasions, should be treated with respect— as the slight whiff of burnt man-hair reminds us!

He believes the important thing at this point is the attention-grabbing spectacle.

Yes, there's an educational aspect to the show, in that Thompson explains some of the basics of physics: that electrons repel each other; that some gases are lighter than air, and inert; that air pressure changes depending on how fast or slow air is moving. Thompson doesn't particularly go into details: after all, the average age of the audience was probably around six-years-old! You get the feeling that he believes the important thing at this point is the attention-grabbing spectacle, and connecting the "science" to things children can easily relate to in their world.

Arguably, that's why the most successful displays involve everyday objects rather than complex mechanisms showing different sound wavelengths in a line of flames. (On the day of this review, the kids around me seemed pretty confused by Thompson bringing out his stylophone, while some of the grown-ups wriggled uncomfortably with their own spoiled childhood memories of Rolf Harris.) In contrast, across the board there seemed a genuine wonder at the water-absorbent crystals commonly found in babies' nappies, and real surprise when Thompson spectacularly showed us just how much stored energy there actually is in an individual jelly baby.

Thompson is an engaging figure on stage, though consciously always a grown-up, rather than a sugar-rush CBBC presenter. As to whether such shows encourage any real interest in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)... well, until someone starts keeping academically-defensible records over the long-term, it's surely not an unreasonable conclusion that they're unlikely to do any obvious harm. Especially given the many excited kids I saw leaving the venue afterwards.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn


One of Two

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Moira in Lockdown

Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Love and Sex on the Spectrum

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti


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



The Blurb

The 'science guy' returns. Explore the strange and magical properties of matter with fireballs, fire tornadoes and amazing chemical reactions. A show for all the family, children and grown-ups alike. Mark, a regular face on Good Morning Britain, Five News and an established author, was also co-presenter of the original series of BBC's Stargazing Live. 'Packed full of high voltage, chemically charged fun to fire young minds... terrifically light-hearted introduction to the serious business of science' **** ( Felix said 'the experiments were brilliant. The explosions were the best!' (Primary Times). **** (

Most Popular See More


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets