Review: Operation Ouch, Apollo Theatre

Operation Ouch Dr Chris and Dr Xand

Operation Ouch Dr Chris and Dr Xand - Credit: Archant

CBeebies twins Dr Chris and Dr Xand rally gross out humour, self experimentation and interactive fun to teach children about the human body

Operation Ouch Dr Chris and Dr Xand

Operation Ouch Dr Chris and Dr Xand - Credit: Archant

Despite their hard to pronounce monikors, twin medics Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken have become enough of a household name to warrant a stage version of their popular CBeebies TV show.

With a combination of gross out slapstick comedy, wacky film editing, and a willingness to experiment on themselves, they explain the biology of everything from breathing to coughs and sneezes to 5-10-year-olds, in language they can understand.

As stage performers, there’s a decidedly amateur edge to their delivery and scripting here.

But they compensate in their obvious rapport with each other, their passion for their subjects, and the kind of good-humoured asides that kept us parents giggling.

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Dr Chris is actually a virology expert at UCLH, and a demonstration of how people get infected - with giant rubber balls batted around the audience, and a handful of talcum powder ‘sneezed’ into spotlights - should convince everyone to get their children vaccinated against one of the world’s most contagious diseases; measles.

During a Q&A, when a child asked what makes illnesses spread quickly, he answers that ‘poverty and lack of human rights’ are the worst spreaders of infectious diseases, and gets a well deserved round of applause.

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The duo comically raid their family photo album to introduce themselves - a trawl through Xand’s school reports reveals he was a truly terrible pupil, until, he tells us, he took up swimming and was finally good at something.

It’s an unsentimental yet inspirational speech about the importance of self confidence and alternative routes to success.

Along the way, there are plenty of rubber chickens, stool samples and gloopy snot.

A set of pigs lungs are inflated, a camera probes Xand’s perforated ear drum and inflamed vocal chords in real time, and we learn about the fright or flight reflex by shining a light into Xand’s pupil and hearing about sphincters.

At 75 minutes the twins don’t outstay their welcome and send us all on our way gently educated and entertained.


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