We're all going to die.

That was the one big takeaway from Cosmic Shambles. Twice the audience was told that diseases are becoming immune to most forms of antibiotics and we will reach a point where we can't have surgery anymore because we won't be able to defend ourselves against infections.

But not to worry - before we all die, at least we got a reminder that science can be fun! Cosmic Shambles, a UK variety show format touring New Zealand for the first time, features light-hearted science demonstrations mixed with comedy and music, making complicated (and occasionally worrying) facts understandable and entertaining.

UK comedian Robin Ince, who created the format, was the perfect host, a nice blend of comedy and science that set the stage for the following acts. It was a mix of British and local scientists, with Michelle Dickinson a lively stand out, while Kiwi comedians Matt Stellingwerf and James Nokise provided captivating comedy interludes.


Yet if our time on Earth is coming to an end, it would've been nice if the show had gone a tad faster. It was pushing an hour overtime by the time it ended and, as entertaining as it was, three and a half hours hearing about maths and science after having battled storms to get there does drag on a bit.

Time could have been saved by cutting the musical performances. They were fine, but an odd match given how they had nothing to do with the science-themed line-up. Really, the only New Zealand musical act that should perform at an event like this is Suzy Cato and even then it would be a bit of a stretch.

Consistently entertaining and mainstream enough that it never felt like a science lesson, fans of QI would find much to love in the Cosmic Shambles format - hopefully we live long enough to see it return.

Review: Cosmic Shambles Live
Where: ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre; now touring New Zealand
Reviewer: Ethan Sills