Ensonglopedia of Animals – John Hinton. The Old Courtroom, 27 May, 2, 3 June
The (very potted) evolutionary history of life on Earth, from sea sponges to primates, doesn’t sound like ideal subject matter for a kids’ show. Nonetheless, I thought I’d really test ‘Science educator and Theatre Maker’ John Hinton’s entertainment abilities by taking a 12 yr old (“you can’t teach me anything”), a 7 yr old (“you can try…”) and a 1 yr old (“Ubba! Apple! More!”). Good luck to him, I thought. Hinton bounds on stage with a big grin, a charming line in banter, and a shambolically comedic energy. I immediately relax. We are in safe hands.
Hinton’s first show, Ensonglopedia of Science, launched in February 2017, and comprises a song about science for each letter of the alphabet. The Ensonglopedia of Animals does the same with animals – but don’t expect ditties about kitties – (and the fact you do expect it is due to the ‘Bambi effect’ – just one of the neatly explained science facts that demonstrate Hinton’s vast background knowledge) – the animals here range from nematodes to aye-ayes to water bears.
With ridiculous props, audience participation, projections of lyrics and diagrams of evolutionary trees to help demonstrate the science behind the songs – which are themselves witty gems, played on guitar (and occasionally accordion) – this is infectiously fun, genuinely clever, and impossible to dislike. Hinton had all three boys doing worm dances, a conga, and even the Playtpus rap. Brilliant!