Edinburgh Festival: Higgs (3 stars)

If I wasn’t writing this I’d like to be lying in the bath, drinking whisky and having a “philosophical moment”. This is what Dutch theologist and physics fanatic Jan van den Berg sometimes does.

His one-man lecture performance is part of a growing genre at Summerhall (and beyond) of works that fuse the kind of subject matter you might find in a Brian Cox documentary with something of a theatrical performance. The aim is to make science or physics easier for a general audience to understand and enjoy – not simple, but something Van den Berg attempts amiably.

He tells us of his obsession with the hunt for the Higgs boson – sometimes known as the “God” particle – named after Peter Higgs who, tonight, is in the audience. As Higgs describes the particle in a Q&A at the end: “It simply changes the way the universe works.” It’s fascinating but sometimes headache-inducing stuff. At times, it feels like Van den Berg is explaining too much without showing enough, but it’s a compelling subject and one that’s worth spending an hour at least trying to think about.

Written for The Scotsman

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