John Hinton’s Albert Einstein: Relatively Speaking is lean and fast-paced; an obviously seasoned and road-tested show with its muscles toned and all unnecessary fat removed.
The audience is highly engaged and the fourth wall demolished from the outset, with Einstein himself ushering in the crowd and chatting amiably in the stalls before the ‘lecture’ even properly begins.
The performer’s respect for both the man and his work is evident in the show’s content and execution. His characterisation of Einstein is broadly rendered for necessary comedic effect but somehow manages to avoid descending into plain caricature. Towards the show’s end, when Einstein explains how his most famous formula is used to achieve the world’s most infamous act, there is a deft move into genuine pathos which is both surprisingly moving and brilliantly realised. You could have heard an atom drop.
The original music and songs are a stand-out. The simply-rendered but musically sophisticated piano score compliments the performance perfectly and seamlessly underpins the show’s many beats and transitions.
On the slightly negative, the rapid-fire delivery of the lyrics, combined with the broad German accent, sometimes left me struggling to understand the song words and joke references; disappointing as those which did translate were undeniably clever.
Also, while the show succeeds in presenting some of Einstein’s most complex theories in the most entertaining way, it’s fast pace allows the audience little time to absorb and contemplate these remarkable ideas. After all, we are talking about the lifetime work of one of the world’s greatest minds condensed into a 40-minute discourse via cabaret! I found myself wishing for a Q&A after the show. “Ok. I now understand why the rule of fixed inertia doesn’t apply to special relativity, but why is it that objects shrink in size as they approach the speed of light?” Of course, the very fact that I am left seeking an answer to such a question is a testament to the show’s inarguable success.
The Holden Street Theatres are a fantastic location and delivers an atmosphere of its only little Fringe. John Hinton’s Albert Einstein: Relatively Speaking is one of three shows in his “scientrilogy” where he plays remarkable and iconic minds from the pages of history such as Charles Darwin and Marie Curie, so come along to one of his shows and get excited about science!