The glamorous and elegant Ballroom at Ayers House is a perfect setting for 'public science lecture' comedy. Set up with beautiful chairs, a speakers podium, and projector screen, it creates the quaint and intimate atmosphere of Victorian curiosity mixed with scientific discovery.
Steve Weyland is Sir David Atten-borrow: natural historian, broadcaster of all things weird and wonderful, and very old man. Over the course of an hour, we, his students of science, will discover the unique flora and fauna of South Australia, including detailed analysis of the human beings who inhabit this state and their (sometimes dubious) achievements. His lecture is interspersed with documentary-style film footage, used very appropriately to break up the sections of the lecture.
Politicians don’t make it out of this show unscathed, with both state and national representatives finding themselves under Sir David’s analytical eye, their antics explained in the form of zoological documentary. Weyland has a keen eye for resemblances, and those who love to poke fun at pollies will appreciate his insights.
As a public service announcement, I advise that the rule of ‘if you don’t want to be called upon, don’t sit down the front’ applies to this show. Some poor student is going to be plucked from the class and subjected to a spot quiz on stage. If you happen to get called on, I assure you Sir David will treat you kindly – and you may just learn something in the process.
Rapid one-liners are the staple of this show. His whole lecture is filled to the brim with dry English humour, sometimes clever, sometimes obvious. I personally found the style to be a bit hit and miss, but there was plenty of laughter going around the room - lovers of this form of comedy will certainly appreciate his wit.
Discussions on the oddities of Adelaide life, such as the previously one-way expressway, although accurate, feel dated. We’ve all heard these jokes before and these reflections, to me, felt timeworn. That said, there were fresher observations that kept the show amusing and some of his other anecdotes on Adelaide life were spot on.
Weyland is a competent performer and delivers the character of Sir David Atten-borrow with finesse and confidence. All in all, a solid comedy show with added educational value – surely a worthwhile goal for any night at the Fringe.
Atten-borrow, the lecture tour plays at Ayers House until 16th March. Tickets can be purchased here.