When you arrive five minutes late, panting and cursing the incomprehensible fact that the Zoo has two separate venues and youve turned up at the wrong one it is quite a surprise to find the audience standing up and facing away from the stage. Welcome to the world of The Bulging Seahorse, which, as you can imagine, is a pretty wacky place.
Four professors have been trapped away in a lab for years, trying desperately to reverse the worlds impending doom while its citizens live in ignorant bliss. Their prime professor has disappeared, and each must try to seek him as they attempt to stop the earth being coated in molten lava. When this becomes impossible, one is left on stage having to make the unenviable decision on informing the world or keeping them shielded from the terrible truth.
This production benefits hugely from its excellent interaction with the audience. It invites them to form a council, vote which professor will undertake the journey to find the prime prof and thus have their memory wiped, and ultimately decide, in a Matrix-style 50/50 decision, whether the world will learn of the horrific knowledge the professors have uncovered. It also has a strong cast, who have applied both invention and creation to a tough to follow script, and often their determination to please the prime prof turns them into something akin to Monty Pythons nuns of Castle Anthrax.
However, it does sometimes fall into the trap of feeling like a science lesson, even a drama lesson, and some (much) of the intellectual passages simply wash over my head. The set is also disappointing, with white coats the only indication to suggest that we are watching a laboratory. But its innovation cannot be faulted, and if youre seeking a play that will intrigue, entice and excite, this may well be for you.