To Space

Dr Niamh Shaw is that relatively rare thing – a skilled and engaging stage performer who also happens to be a scientist and engineer, with both a degree and PhD to her name. Clearly, she’s keen on spreading a greater understanding of science and the wonderful universe around us, though always with what could be termed a dose of scientific realism: for example, pointing out that the more we study the universe, the more complicated it appears to become. And that the more we look at the skies, the smaller we become as the universe just keeps getting bigger.

Even the smallest speck of black space is actually full of the ancient light of impossibly distant galaxies.

To Space is an autobiographically grounded work with a touch of the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures, chemical experiment included – though there’s nothing that goes “Bang!”. She looks back at various moments in her life, providing documentary evidence with a host of old family photographs and extracts from her childhood and teenage diaries, projected on the wall behind her. Early on, she shares her memories of when her eight-year-old self watched Star Wars for the first time, and how the launch of the Millennium Falcon captured her imagination. When Han Solo powered up his iconic ship’s light-speed drive, young Niamh absolutely fell in love with space, travelling between the stars, and the idea that something like the Millennium Falcon could be engineered. So she decided there and then that she would become an astronaut in order to get into space.

So Niamh worked hard at school, and went to university; most recently she spent several weeks on the Space Studies programme at the International Space University. But you can’t help but feel her disappointment when she tells us that her engineering degree and choice of PhD science subject don’t quite match what the European Space Agency (ESA) is now looking for in its future astronauts. Still, she has her own astronaut trainee uniform to show for her recent studies; it just doesn’t include the badge name of a particular future space mission.

Today’s older Niamh may still be grounded, she’s nevertheless looking up at the stars in the knowledge that – thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope – we now know that what looks like even the smallest speck of black space is actually full of the ancient light of impossibly distant galaxies. What is it about space that appeals to her – to us all? It’s not exactly clear that she knows for sure, but she’s aware that desire to explore is a long-established human instinct. And that space has so much to teach us. 

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

To Space is your telescope into a future and capsule that will preserve the past. Scientist and performer Dr Niamh Shaw has dreamed of space travel from the age of eight. After a year of interviewing astronauts, astrophysicists, space industries and potential future colonists of Mars, she’s discovered that what was once her childhood dream may soon become a reality. In a multimedia immersive performance that buzzes with new technologies, she explores the beauty, darkness and humanity of Space. What is our attraction to Space? What are we chasing – or escaping from?

Most Popular See More

Mary Poppins

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £22.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets