Chemistry and dramatic theatre are not an obvious combination. Sure, we talk of chemistry on stage, but that doesn’t generally mean overflowing beakers of bubbles.
However, Carl Djerassi - one of the inventors of the contraceptive pill - is out to change all that. He has written an entertaining ‘chemical whodunnit’ set in a US university where Polish scientist Jerzy Krzyz is struggling to gain tenure.
The play opens in a courthouse. Two professors died after drinking some of bubbleologist Krzyz’s home-made champagne… was it an accident or was it murder?
Andy Jordan’s production does a great job at depicting the rivalry between faculty members - even though his actors’ accents border on caricatures. Tim Dutton (Krzyz) and Sara Griffiths (the faculty secretary) do eventually hit their stride. It is Karen Archer’s fearsome prosecutor, though, who is the most convincing throughout.
Signe Beckman’s impressive set packs a lot in, just make sure you sit in one of the back rows to avoid neck-ache - and accidental explosions.
You’re unlikely to leave Insufficiency with a strong reaction - either favourable or damning - to the play. But you’ll definitely know a little more about chemistry, and you’ll never look at champagne in the same way again.