First up, a confession – I didn’t study science at school and I believe I am worse off because of that. I greatly admire scientific endeavour, though I have little to no understanding of what a scientist does day to day.
Taking to the stage at The Butterfly Club are Michele Conyngham, Phil Dooley and Patrick Trumper, who call themselves Dramatis Scientificae (which, translated from Latin, means Scientific Drama). Joining them are two special guests (who vary from among five such guests during the performance’s season). Their aim is to bring science to the masses … with humour. They sing original ditties, they act in a series of vignettes and one of the guests even shows science in action, which was my personal highlight.
First up, a musical number about climate change, referencing scientific knowledge as insurance. Conyngham, Dooley and Trumper don a series of “silly” outfits and take on various guises to bring on the laughs, while making headway in conversation. Among the subjects they deal with are taking shorter showers, the “right” flowers to give a woman on a first date, black holes, eggs and fusion. I don’t think I understood the half of it. Nevertheless, it was certainly amusing. And, of course, you couldn’t host a science-based show in 2022 without COVID-19 getting a look in.
There is a video segment on “The Quantum Mechanic” with a hapless removalist, while magnate “Clive Palmiere” puts in an appearance to shake things up even more. That’s when philosophy gets a working over. Opening night saw singing scientist Catriona Nguyen-Robertson open her lungs and warble enthusiastically about our immune system. The other guest was Sean M. Elliott from Rough Science who demonstrated the Tesla Coil (named after its inventor Nikola Tesla in 1891), which I, for one, certainly found impressive.
A lot is said and sung in an hour. I dare say science nerds will “get” it all, even if I didn’t. Regardless, the endeavour and intent are commendable throughout. Science can certainly be accessible to the untrained. Julius Sumner Miller proved that on ABC TV from the 1960s to the 1980s with his series Why Is It So? Dr Karl Kruszelnicki remains a drawcard as a scientific enthusiast. Michele Conyngham, Phil Dooley and Patrick Trumper add a health lashing of comedy to the mix. Directed by Margie McCrae, with choreography from Pete Blackburn, Stir-fried Science is on at The Butterfly Club until 23rd July, 2022.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Secrets (The Butterfly Club) – theatre review
- Mor(t)ality (The Butterfly Club) – theatre review
- Control (New Theatre) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.