FamilyFestive 18/19LondonReviewWest End

Operation Ouch Live – Apollo Theatre

Presenters: Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken

Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

“It’s not a Panto”

This is possibly the only unsupported claim maid by the identical twin pair through the 70 minute show that rolls from snot and earwax, to viruses, vaccinations and emotional well being.

With many rounds of actual “Oh no he isn’t” very much in evidence, the science on this clearly shows that it’s a panto, though maybe the kids will get something other than a laugh at Widow Twanky this time.

Perhaps already known in your household as the doctor presenters of the BBC’s Operation Ouch, the pair’s easy delivery of important (and sometimes delightfully gross) medical facts helps pack in some great info through the show. Written for children with all the simple characters (Dr. Xand apparently likes capes, naps and eating) and gleeful shouting you may expect, it’s a solid version of the TV series with some experiments live on stage, a few clips from the show and plenty of audience participation including a Q&A at the end (questions can be submitted in advance on twitter and Facebook as well).  

It’s not all ick and juvenalia though – there’s something for everyone here. We get to see inside ears, up noses, watch lungs inflate, and laugh about storing farts in balloons. Also, we get an incredibly clear illustration of the importance of vaccines and how they work to prevent the spread of infection and sickness. We get jokes about the pair as babies and Dr. Xand’s terrible school reports, as well as a beautifully written, direct and actionable speech to the young audience about emotional control and self confidence if you feel daunted or nervous about anything.

There’s not much in the way of big production values – a few essential props and a big screen to present the pre-recorded clips and the inside of Dr. Xand’s ear on. But the pair get the attention of the children immediately, and hold it to the last loud yell. Their slightly over-laboured delivery at points is wearing, but, in fairness, they’re presenting to kids with parents as accessories so it’s no big deal.

It’s smart writing, interesting, engaging and funny. Two excellent science communicators doing what they do best, as well as some fart jokes. Nothing not to love.

Runs until 6 January 2018 | Image: Prudence Upton

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