The Professor

12/08/19

Assembly Rooms (Drawing Room), George Street, Edinburgh

The audience files politely into the theatre and we take our seats. The lights dim and in comes our speaker for the day, who assigns us the roles of university students, here to attend his latest lecture. None of us feels inclined to argue the point. He immediately announces that today’s talk will take a break from the advertised subject and will instead make a few unexpected detours. Written by Brian Parks and performed by David Calvitto, The Professor depicts a man on the verge of a change – and moreover, not one he’s making by choice.

So we are offered a scattershot lecture on the joys of mathematics, the history of theatre and a snarling put down of the limitations of dance. Calvitto steers his way expertly through the very witty and hyper-verbose script, occasionally delivering dazzling one-liners and even pausing at one point to perform some lines in verse (because poetry that doesn’t rhyme is worthless, right?), accompanying himself on a mandolin. What’s clever here is that this professor cannot resist thrusting large chunks of his own prejudices and foibles into what ought to be a dispassionate account. He also believes that cats (and racoons) can read books. Don’t ask. And all of this, really, is just an elaborate set up for what must be the most protracted fart gag in history.

This is a slight but pleasing piece that starts and ends strongly enough, but feels a little unfocused in the middle.

Those who have worked in the world of academia will doubtless recognise a lot of what goes on here. The rest of us will just be too busy giggling about that fart joke.

3.5 stars

Philip Caveney

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