Magic and superstition need mystery; they need to be unknown, and unknowable. So when Isaac Newton is born, his desire to understand and quantify the world spells the end of – well - spells. Told by Wendy and her sister Wombat, this funny and irreverent story looks at what happened on Christmas Day 1642, albeit with a fair few historical inaccuracies thrown into the brew.
Christmas prophesies are always the same - "a child is born", and so forth. At least, that’s what Wombat thinks as she feeds her sister the prophecy potion. But this prophesy sends the witches off on a quest to save their world, their livelihood and even magic itself. As Wendy begins to doubt their goal, their plans begin to backfire hilariously, in what’s ultimately a charming comedy.
Though it obviously plays to well-known events, and the poison apple is a little predictable, there are still plenty of jokes you don't see coming in advance. A clever script is full of references to some of the many things this great scientist discovered; the more you know, the more you'll laugh.
The two actors are highly skilled and work well together, delivering their punchlines perfectly and earning laughs for the physical jokes. They do well portraying the relationship of the sisters, though I do feel the writer tried to make too much of the growing tensions between them – a theme which seemed at odds with the comedic nature of the play and made for an awkward, if touching, ending.
There were some technical issues, including spotlights not on the speaking character and some off-timed loud knocking, which distracted from the action somewhat. However, Newton’s Cauldron is an enjoyable and funny show for anyone who enjoys their science with a little sprinkling of magic.