An innovative production called Beyond My Control – part game show, part improvised drama, part maths puzzle – aims to shed new light on epilepsy and pioneering research into the condition.

The show, at Swindon Arts Centre on Tuesday at 1.30pm and again at 7.30pm, is the result of a collaboration between Exeter Northcott Theatre and Exeter University academics. The university is exploring techniques which could revolutionise diagnostic procedures.

Following an intense period of research and development, a première at the Northcott last March won praise for providing a funny, engaging and meaningful reflection on the lived experience of epilepsy. Improvised scenes take audiences through the characteristics of the brain to explain how seizures occur, alongside testimonies from those living with the condition. For one hour, the show will bring together the logical world of mathematics and the unpredictable world of theatre. Northcott Artistic Director Paul Jepson, who devised the show in collaboration with Professor of Biomedical Modelling John Terry, said: “It was wonderful to imagine a route to performance based on a new set of rules.

“Beyond My Control offers a liberating opportunity to engage creatively with a mathematician’s erudite modelling.”

Professor Terry added: “I really hope we can advance the public’s understanding of what it means to have epilepsy and the role that mathematics can have in understanding the condition.”

Beyond My Control drew inspiration from ground-breaking research which revealed differences in the way that distant regions of the brain connect with each other, and how these differences may lead to the generation of seizures.

These connections are represented dramatically on stage as a family in dispute and agreement.

The team of researchers from Exeter and Kings College, London, which is also one of the venues on the tour, found that brain networks in people with epilepsy (IGE) have altered connections, in contrast to healthy controls.

By using computer algorithms and mathematical models, the researchers revealed subtle differences in dynamic network properties that increase susceptibility to seizures.

The pivotal research has been published in a recent series of papers, the most recent of which was in the scientific journal Epilepsia.

This is the first production created under the IMPACT programme, a new partnership between the Northcott theatre and the university, neighbours on the Streatham campus in Exeter.

The collaboration, which began in 2016, unites academics and theatrical practitioners to explore an idea or piece of research as a stimulus for creative work.

Northcott Theatre’s role is to curate the programmes, moving workshopped ideas into commissioned works and ultimately full productions, bringing the work to a national audience.

Other projects, covering broad topics such as dementia, are already in the pipeline.

Professor Terry added: “Our research offers the fascinating possibility of a revolution in diagnosis for people with epilepsy.”

Audience members will be invited to offer feedback, interact with the performance, and with the academics. Tickets are £13. from 01793 534481 or visit