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The Lonsdale Project

A crystallographic comedy about pioneering chemist Kathleen Lonsdale’s explorations into benzene, belief, and building a better world

Super Paua

Event description

The Lonsdale Project is a theatre show about the life and work of Kathleen Lonsdale - chemist, crystallographer, anti-war campaigner, writer, mother, and former inmate of Holloway Prison.  Despite being lauded in her field and renowned in her time, Lonsdale’s name and scientific legacy are curiously unknown by the general public.  

Super Paua want to change that. Their interdisciplinary team of artists, educators and scientists have challenged themselves to make a fun, engaging piece of theatre that explores X-ray diffraction, the benzene ring, pacifism, and symmetry. 

Written and directed by Sian Ní Mhuirí, The Lonsdale Project explores the biography of an extraordinary woman, and the scientific research which she so passionately championed. With playful dialogue and design, vivid characters, and pressing relevance to the scientific and political debates of today, The Lonsdale Project asks us to consider how we feel towards science, how we remember (or forget) the great scientists of times gone by, and whether we value curiosity, creativity, hard work and personal conviction enough to let them shape our collective future.

Kathleen Lonsdale worked in the crystallography research team headed by Nobel Prize winner Sir William Henry Bragg here at the Royal Institution. She was also the first woman, alongside Marjory Stephenson, to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, first woman tenured professor at University College London, first woman president of the International Union of Crystallography, and first woman president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

About the production

Written and directed by Sian Ní Mhuirí, The Lonsdale Project previews in Ireland,in Lonsdale’s birthplace Newbridge as well as Dublin in March, before the UK opening in Brighton at the Fringe and visiting the prestigious Royal Institution on 24 and 25 May.

The cast includes Hazel Clifford (Cara in Starry Nights, also performed at The Gate Theatre in The Snapper and, more recently, in Playboy of the Western World in the Lyric Theatre Belfast), Aoife Spratt (a regular on the improvised comedy podcast Phoning it in, also known for stage and tv appearances in John Morton’s Smitten and The Roaring Banshees by Devious Theatre) and Graeme Coughlan (actor and director with the most recent credits including Dubdaze which appeared at the Dublin International Film Festival and The Collector at The New Theatre).

Super Paua is an Irish artist-led collective that makes theatre for all ages in a variety of languages, places, and forms. Humour, social relevance, and respect define its work. The company produces three types of project:

  • Professional Plays that are crafted by experienced storytellers, and that aim to entertain, inspire and challenge the public.
  • Collaborative Classes that are run for and with communities who don’t usually go to the theatre. 
  • Targeted Artist Development that uses some of the opportunities that Super Paua have access to in supporting marginalised artists, or people looking for a route into paid theatre and art work who are from marginalised groups. 


The doors will open at approximately 5.30pm, with a prompt start at 6.00pm. The production lasts approximately 60 minutes.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.