Grime expert makes drama out of crisis

Play commissioned by Aston professor about antibiotic misuse goes on tour

22 May 2017

  • Theatre company stages specially commissioned play on antibiotic resistance
  • Aston professor treads the boards at Cheltenham Science Festival on 7 June
  • Audience able to participate by voting on scenarios

A drama about the misuse of antibiotics, which was specially commissioned by Aston University, is to be performed at the Cheltenham Science Festival next month.

The Drugs Don’t Work: a tale of resistance, will be shown on Wednesday 7 June at The Crucible. The 60-minute play tells the story of antibiotics being misused by a celebrity who bullies a GP into prescribing them – and the consequences.

Performed by Hobgoblin Theatre Company, the play was commissioned by award-winning science communicator Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University and star of Grime Scene Investigations.

Anthony appears as the story’s narrator and also leads a panel of health and science experts that consider the common misconceptions around antibiotics, which are then voted on by the audience.

The Drugs Don’t Work is the third in a series of plays commissioned by Anthony who has worked previously with the theatre-in-education company on scripts to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections and on the super-bug MRSA.

He said: “These everyday topics are important to all of us and our health and welfare but sometimes they can be difficult to talk about. By weaving the subject matter and the misconceptions around them into a drama and also involving the audience, it makes it easier for children and young people, their families and teachers to talk about the issues and how we can all help to tackle them.

“No one wants to be lectured at, so the play is a fun and interactive way of engaging with the public, whilst also raising awareness and knowledge of an important subject,” added Anthony, who is deputy executive dean of the School of Life and Health Sciences.

Anthony is a regular face at the annual Cheltenham Science Festival having in the past narrated a play on MRSA, hosted an event and cooked a three course meal made up of food produced entirely by microbes!   

The performance on 7 June is sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC), the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences and by Addmaster (UK) Ltd, which supplies Biomaster antibacterial technology to the healthcare, catering and other industries.  

Paul Morris, CEO Addmaster said: “We are really pleased to again be sponsoring Aston University in the delivery of a really important hygiene message that is key in the fight against anti-microbial resistant bacteria. This message can be confusing and it is vital people become aware of the danger a world without antibiotics presents. The work Aston University is doing to raise awareness sets a great example to us all to be more hygienic in our daily lives.”

The Drugs Don’t Work was first performed at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum in April as part of activities by Aston University to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance.  

The play, which is suitable for children aged 12 and over, will be performed on 7 June at 6pm. Tickets cost £8 and can be booked online. Cheltenham Science Festival runs from 6-11 June.  


Notes to the editor 
  • Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.
  • EPSRCis the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.
  • Addmaster (UK) Ltd is Europe's leading supplier of high performance, technically innovative additives to the plastics, textile, paper, paints and coatings industries. Biomaster Protected products are tested to ISO standards and are proven to be effective against over most common types of harmful bacteria such as E.coli, MRSA, Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Legionella and Pseudomonas.

For more information, call Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or email  

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