Annabella and Phil, two steampunk scientists from the future (let's not probe that too deeply), are both in dire straits – they need to give a presentation on all nine forms of energy, or else they'll be expelled from science college! Over the next hour, they run through all nine forms (with plenty an explosion on the way), and teach another the value of organisation as well as having fun!

This show is a really pleasant surprise: the Science Museum's IMAX theatre is normally a rather impressive and exciting 3D experience, but using it as a theatre space is an interesting twist: the Science Museum Live arm, which is aiming to make more interactive shows like this, is certainly an exciting development. A quick look down the credit list reveals that theatre director/producer Sam Mason has now become the Commercial Director at the museum, so I suppose we can expect more of these in the future, which is only a good thing – it epitomises everything that makes the Science Museum so great.

As in the rest of the museum, it adds interaction to the otherwise quite dry science: having scientific principles explained in a fun way (and in the guise of a show) is an excellent way to get the kids learning, and those sat all around me were certainly enjoying themselves.

It's hardly surprising that they were enjoying themselves: the focus here is very much on fun, with plenty of jokes (none too ribald, all very tame and friendly), lots of explosions and shocks, and even a comedy mute clown (Bernard). If anything, the focus on fun gets in the way of the hard science (and vice versa), with the long moments where animated lab assistant i-Nstein explains various energy processes dragging in comparison to the high-octane theatre.

If these were better intertwined, the show would feel more connected; as such, it feels like education is struggling against fun, when the theme of the whole show is about how to combine fun with serious study (epitomised by the two characters), which is a bit of a shame.

Nonetheless, there is plenty here to enjoy, outside of the shattered frozen flowers and bottle-rocket cannons – not a penny has been spared, and designer Janet Bird has gone to town on every aspect of set and costume, with the characters in flashy steampunk outfits, the lovely set festooned with pretty items, and it must have taken some time (and money) to make the 3D animated i-Nstein come to life.

I only hope this is the start of more shows like this: they're so much more engaging than the standard IMAX fare, sit very nicely with the Science Museum's other exhibits, and are cracking good fun to boot. A little more time on scripts (and making sure the science is a more integral part of the story) will make for a more resounding success, but this is still very much on the right track!

The Energy Show, at Science MuseumChris Hislop reviews The Energy Show at the Science Museum.4