Lorenzo Pacitti

Edinburgh Fringe review: Robert Newman’s New Theory Of Evolution

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Robert Newman is an incredibly clever man, and that’s clear within minutes of this show starting.

What’s also immediately evident is how charming and funny he is. It’s a pleasure to spend an hour in the wee tent at Stand In The Square, learning and laughing with Robert.

Unless you go in with a vast knowledge of genetics and biology, you will learn, and you will learn a bloody lot. Robert’s enthusiasm for his work is obvious and engaging, the audience listens intently, often leaning forward in their chairs, enthralled in one of Robert’s explanations of various subjects.

Thankfully, he’s also very funny, particularly in his use of hilarious metaphors to essentially dumb down a very complex theory. None of this feels patronising or unnecessary; in fact it is very welcome and helps keep the show accessible and the laughs rolling.

As well as dissecting theories with comedy, Newman is an accomplished storyteller. He is a wonderful orator and has a beautiful descriptive quality to the tales he regales the audience with. The stories always have a worthwhile punch line, often a callback or a reference, which is well appreciated by the crowd.

Newman is on the move constantly, using the whole stage, swinging for support beams, touching the roof, pushing his hair out of his face. This helps in keeping up the pace of the show during moments of deeper scientific material.

Towards the end of the show, Newman introduced a musical element that didn’t seem to hit with the audience. It felt a little forced and shoehorned in. In fact even most of the lyrics seemed to just be jokes he’d already made, repeated as part of a verse of his songs.

At one point he looked for audience engagement in the form of singing and clapping along. While many reluctantly obliged with clapping, there was an awkward quiet as the pause was left by Newman for the audience to fill with singing.

For the most part Newman blends educating and entertaining together very well and with great effect. Now and then, the show can drag and some elements of the hour didn’t feel as well developed or fleshed out as the longer stories, or criticisms of some modern evolutionary thinkers. Still, though, a worthwhile hour of your time at the Fringe.


Date of live review: 5 August 2014 @ Stand In The Square

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