This intriguing show is basically a dressed-up science lecture to explore the question “are men’s and women’s brains really different, or not?” And it is seriously dressed-up. Timandra Harkness spares nothing in the way of theatrically enlivening what is in essence a load of proper actual science stuff. There are multiple costume changes; clever use of back-projection, including using it to have ‘conversations’ with an absent professor of brain science, who also sings and plays guitar. There is a rat called Socrates (SocRATes, geddit?) who features regularly. There is an electric shock machine. There are live experiments on audience members. Multitudes of other stuff on the back projection – including the thoughts of the rat – and lots and lots and lots of graphs, presented in umpteen different ways. Harkness is an energetic and engaging performer, great at jokes as well as scientific jargon, and the whole effect is to make it seem not like a solo show at all, there are so many other people (and rodents) in it. I think the conclusion in the end is that men’s and women’s brains might be a bit different, but not much. Who knew? But whether the evening is scientifically enlightening is a bit beside the point. Dopamine? Cerebellum? Synaptic gap? Dunno, guv. But as spectacularly entertaining exercise for the brain, it’s a winner.
John Christopher Wood