This comedy show for kids starts off with a challenge. Take your age; if it is even halve it, if it’s odd triple it and add one – then keep going and see what happens. But don’t worry if you can’t work out what three times your age is, or even remember how old you are. This show is not a test, and ‘maths is all about making mistakes’.
Kyle Evans really shines in sharing his love of maths with the audience, taking some well-known mathematical curiosities and making them fun, accessible and interactive. From a paper-folding ‘World Cup’ to The T-Shirts of Hanoi, he gets the audience involved and engaged, maintaining the interest with a fast pace. Unfortunately, as a result, one or two of the explanations do became rushed and hard to follow.
In any show for kids, the choice of what to cover is incredibly important, and Kyle does well to strike a balance: some parts are easy enough for the least algebraically-inclined to understand, but he still adds something for the precocious child who has gorged on every puzzle they could find. They are loosely bound together with a theme of doubling, which leads to pleasing reveals and genuine ‘oh!’ moments.
Showing rather than telling, and plenty of audience interaction, works well – and makes the show interesting regardless of whether you are struggling to understand, or are already very familiar with the topic. Though props are fairly simple, they are visually pleasing and well made. Using prepared boards to show examples and diagrams was a good call, but when he lifts them to point or gesticulate it reveals the next one, a minor distraction which could be resolved with a different way of handling them.
The laughter comes naturally, and Kyle is particularly good at finding humour in things the children do and say without making it feel like they are being laughed at. Even when a child suggests that the adorable sock bunnies would die after having a pair of babies, he is unfazed and doesn’t miss a beat.
Maths Madness combines well-chosen mathematical treats with an easy-to-grasp general theme, alongside a deep and obvious passion for maths. It’s a satisfying hour, and leaves us with an enigma to puzzle over.