Fringe Review: John Hinton’s Scientriology: The Element in The Room


Presented by John Hinton, Tangram Theatre and Holden Street Theatres
Reviewed 18 February 2018

John Hinton is a talented performer, seamlessly changing character through body language and accents. For most of the time he portrays Marie Curie wearing a 19th century style black and glowing green dress – in honour of her discovery of radium.  Jo Eagle portrays the dead Pierre Curie and provides great musical support playing the accordion and singing for an all too short a time.

Even before we go into the theatre Hinton puts on his science communicator hat, which sits very well with the dress, giving the audience cards detailing elements on the periodic table for an audience participation game. He also steps out of character during the show to tell us more about Curie’s work or her family and to play the game. Suffice to say it involves a ball of wool, high pitched squeals, vibrations of the universe and a promise of free drinks! It is both funny and informative.

The performance shifts from mime and monologue, from Marie Curie in her laboratory, to a song about radium, where audience participation is encouraged. Through Hinton we also meet American journalist Missy Meloney who wanted to interview Curie for an American women’s magazine and went on to become a lifelong friend. Missy organised a nationwide fundraiser and many American women contributed money to the fund. The catch for Marie was she had to go to America to get the radium.

There is a very funny interlude when Marie, exhausted by all the lectures, meetings and socialising which Missy has arranged, collapses on the floor complaining about her back and Hinton bobs up and down like a jack in a box – switching from Marie lying on the floor to Missy urging her to get up and continue the tour.

We learn now why Marie has no money for her research while they are visiting the radium watch factory which is booming. The Curies believed that it would be wrong to patent the process of producing radium as scientific advancements belong to everyone. It is at moments like this and when Marie is telling Missy how difficult it was for her to get a university education and be recognised as a woman scientist, that Hinton brings us up short, making us think by reminding us of the need still for campaigns such as #MeToo, more than a century after Marie Curie’s great work.

It’s very difficult to characterise this show. It’s hugely amusing, thought provoking, informative and also a little sad, knowing that although Curie’s discoveries went on to help many people, others, probably including Marie herself, died from the effects of radioactive exposure. Make sure you see all 3 plays in the Scientriology and learn more about Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin too.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 5: 4.5

Venue:  The Arch, 34 Holden St Hindmarsh
Season:   Feb Thurs 22, 6.15pm; Sat 24, 12.15; Sun 25 6.15pm  March Sun 4, 3.15pm &6.15pm; Sun11, 6.15pm; Tues 13, 11am; Thurs 15, 7.45pm; Sun 18, 1.45pm 
Duration:  60 mins
Tickets:  $28 Conc $25
Bookings:  Fringe TIX 1300 621 255;; 8225 8888


Very clever
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