“Horrox”: a play about Jeremiah Horrocks at the Cambridge festival

JHI Director Professor Derek Ward-Thompson recently attended a performance of a new play about Jeremiah Horrocks, simply called ‘Horrox’.

The play was excellent and focussed on Jeremiah’s Cambridge connection, but it was fair to his whole life, or what we know of it. In addition, it had a parallel strand about the life of Kepler and actually explained to a public audience the significance of the observations, although it did slightly downplay the errors on the measurements. Nevertheless, it was very enjoyable.

The actor who played Jeremiah was actually a Physics student, studying for a PhD in Cambridge in materials science, and it was obvious that he’d done his homework. He’d read ‘Venus in Sole Visa’, and as much else as he could find about Jeremiah, which of course was quite a lot, being in Cambridge. This showed in his whole performance.

The author had apparently learnt about Horrocks, and his life and Cambridge connection, at the time of the 2012 transit, and had determined to write about it. He’d finally got around to it during lockdown, and this was the first time it had been staged.

The whole performance was an excellent example of how to reach a public audience with obscure scientific content.