Horrox

By David Sear

ADC Theatre, Cambridge, 28 March – 01 April 2023

A forgotten Cambridge hero who changed the way we see the Universe

Jeremiah Horrocks came to Cambridge in 1632 at the age of fifteen to study the stars. By the time he was just 22 he had changed the way in which we see the Universe. Tragically and mysteriously, he was also dead – and then forgotten.

Horrox charts the brilliant, short life of one of the greatest astronomers in history, and his quest to be the first human to observe the Transit Of Venus, proving for the first time that the Earth was not at the centre of creation. The play brings alive the comedy of his brief and heretical rise to notoriety at Cambridge and his subsequent astronomical career with his collaborator and friend William Crabtree. It shows the youthful exuberance of Horrox and his friends as they travel along the ‘road to the Sun’ through Cambridge then to Broughton and finally Much Hoole near Liverpool, and tragedy.

The arc of his life is shown in parallel with that of his main inspiration, Johannes Kepler, the Copernican astronomer- mathematician who measured the movement of the planets. Kepler, called a heretic by the world, served three Holy Roman Emperors and a Duke (and wasn’t paid for his labours by any of them).

The play conveys through tragicomedy the triumphs and the sad fates of both Kepler and Horrox as they struggle to hold onto their beliefs against a world almost universally ranged against them. Horrox brings to the stage a forgotten Cambridge hero; a young man’s passionate search for the answer to one of humanity’s biggest questions: what is our place in the Universe?

Author, David Sear at Emmanuel College, Cambridge

View the Horrox souvenir programme, detailing the history and science behind the story.

An Absolutely excellent and interesting show with a superb cast.

Julie PetrucciCombinations

What a delight to see your play come to life. The dialogue is terrific. The plotting is spot on! Congratulations. Thanks so much for inviting us to share the joy of this triumph!

Nick DayRSC Actor

As I left the theatre tonight I overheard someone say “that was cracking, I really enjoyed that”. I agree!

Peter DoddsAudience

It was an inspired idea to write it, and a polished and informative production.

Graham WaterhouseAudience
Logos for the Cambridge festival

Horrox appeared as part of the Cambridge Festival 2023.

What is the Cambridge Festival?

The new, interdisciplinary Cambridge Festival (replacing the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas) took place from 17 March – 2 April 2023 with a mixture of on online, on-demand and in-person events covering all aspects of the world-leading research happening at Cambridge.