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The Professor review at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh – ‘softly spoken satire of fake news’

David Calvitto in The Professor at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh David Calvitto in The Professor at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
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There has been a change to the advertised lecture today and the professor seems more than usually enthusiastic to explain why. He may enthuse over the logic and majesty of mathematics but it soon becomes clear that his real passion is the arts. He waxes rhapsodically on theatre, literature, dance and music but the further we buy into his world, the more whacky his theories and beliefs become. One particular thread insists that mammals have a hitherto unrecorded fondness for Victorian literature.

Brian Parks’ new absurdist drama culminates with an explosive visit to the Louvre and a letter that changes the professor’s career path. It’s an amiable lecture filled with humour and former The Stage Edinburgh Award winner David Calvitto is an engaging presence – softly spoken but utterly convincing as the cheery academic. For all the humour, there is a point being made about the power of self-belief and society’s current relationship with the truth.

The Professor has moments of whimsical pleasure but that builds, albeit eloquently, into something verging on the scatological. If it’s a metaphor for fake news, then it’s an astute one, just absurd and unpalatable enough to make its point. The post-show visual punchline is an added bonus in this deceptively astute play.

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Softly spoken satire on the culpability of fake news