The principle of educational theatre is a strong one — what better way to engage with a student than couch the facts in entertainment? The fact that the Science Museum is making some new, interesting and striking forays into this area is only a good thing, but they need to beware some of the more esoteric corners of the theatre landscape.

For example, what Marcus de Sautoy and Victoria Gould (of Complicite fame) have created here in X&Y, while vaguely educational, is basically a textbook example of the post-dramatic experiment: a play without plot, characters, or setting. Everything is described in mathematical terms, so much so that when Gould's character shows some welcome humanity instead of quoting mathematical formulae, the entire room audibly breathed a sigh of relief.

It's not that maths, especially the theoretical and bizarre end of it that X&Y deals with (concepts of infinity, zero and multiple dimensions) isn't fascinating, it's that this way of trying to explain it is exceptionally trite. Having the characters leave the stage to re-enter from the other side to show the concept of cyclical looping isn't new, and them then breaking down that they are actors and it's all illusion is even more trite.

But no, that's just an instance of the continued meta-referentiality (that post-dramatic theatre got tired of a long time ago) this piece is full of — by the end, the performers have defined themselves as actors and the piece as a piece so often that any interest in the entirely vague and limited set-up is lost.

However, in all of the crimes, the worst is still to come — for educational theatre, this does a particularly poor job of explaining any of the concepts it is about. Discussing infinity, fractal design and the like is all fine, but my friend needed some of the symbology and concepts explaining by the end — your piece shouldn't need a programme to be comprehensible.

So, not only a rather regrettably old-fashioned and unoriginal piece, but it doesn't even achieve its own goal: one can only hope the Science Museum's next theatrical experiment is a return to the really rather good work that's come before this mess.

X&Y, at Science Museum

The next in the Science Museum's foray into theatre, X&Y's mathematical post-dramatic ramblings is a profound mis-step, rehashing some of the most trite of theatrical experiments to create a wholly forgettable and dull hour of lecture theatre.