Brighton Fringe 2022
Triple award-winning Irish comedian and scientist, Donal Vaughan, brings his hugely popular science, comedy, magic family show to Brighton Fringe with some brand new tricks. including popping a balloon with an orange, a twist on the famous tablecloth trick, and a device that runs electricity through your body.
Using only things you find around the house, Donal will perform amazing tricks to show how magical science can be. Want to see a potato rocket launcher? Or conjure dragons breath? How about a vomiting unicorn? Of course you do.
The show takes place in the hundred seat theatre in the basement of the Walrus Pub.
As we arrive, the White Coat wearing Magician greets us and checks our tickets before finding us somewhere to sit in the crowded room. The show is a sellout. It is a nice way to make the younger children feel comfortable before the show begins.
Donal is a bubbly and enthusiastic Irishman. His round face and features enhance the mad scientist look. The Irish lilt brings warmth to the character.
This is a cross over show; it’s part stand up comedy, part magic show and part science lesson, an impressive trick to pull off.
Mixing in gags, Donal explains the premise of the show, before reassuring the audience that science is not hard. All of the ‘magic experiments’ in the show can be done at home. His quick patter, adlibs and audience interaction move the show along and avoid it becoming boring.
Donal works quickly to build rapport with the children, drawing them into some conspiratorial rule-breaking. For example, he says there are rules for the show about bad language before introducing some child-friendly words that make both children and parents laugh. It is never inappropriate.
There is a nice section where he explains to the children the importance of looking after and caring for your grown-up.
The opening trick involves fire, using a burning candle. Simply and effectively he demonstrates different examples of fire spreading and not spreading before explaining the three things fire needs in order to burn. The science is simply explained and interesting enough to engage everyone’s attention.
As he moves through his range of tricks and explanations his ‘patter’ is cleverly targeted at different groups. He is aware that he needs to include jokes that only the adults get, so he can keep them entertained too.
The tricks are entertaining, visually effective and accompanied by scientific explanations as to why they work. There is an element of the Horrible Histories, with references to certain fluids and bodily functions, which serves to keep the children on board. They like to be disgusted! There is audience participation and just enough reality for the volunteers to have a concern about what was going to happen, although nothing untoward ever does.
There is a big finale, with more fire!
The hour passed quickly and it is clear that everyone enjoyed the show. There was no evidence that the children were ever bored.
If you are taking your children to a fringe show, then this is a brilliant way to spend an hour. Donal’s experience as a stand up means that he keeps the humour up through out the show. There is much for children and adults to laugh at. The tricks work and the science bits are never boring or reminiscent of school days. This is clever, entertaining comedy science. This show fits into a niche and it is easy to see why it is a sell out.
It’s science and that’s magic.