Adelaide Fringe 2011: Dante’s Laboratory (Cabaret)
Dante’s Laboratory followed Dante’s path through Hell, with a scientific perspective and an entertaining twist. Chris KP (Pre-Coital, Somnium) gave us a cabaret exploring behaviour, morality and the secrets of sin – with reference to evolutionary biology, genetics and psychology. Dante’s Laboratory asked the big questions and did it with song.
View media release Dante’s Laboratory: It’s gonna be one HELL of a cabaret (3 March 2011)
More about the show:
“Captivating expose of sin’s secrets . . . Krishna-Pillay had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the moment he appeared on stage.” – Otago Daily Times.
Obesity is on the rise, terrorism and violence feature in the headlines every day and we have moved to a much more sedentary lifestyle. Dante’s Laboratory examines if the seven deadly sins are still relevant today. Are we gluttonous, slothful and greedy? Are we vengeful and lustful? And what can science tell us?
In Dante’s Laboratory, Chris KP (and live band, the Virtuous Pagans) follow Dante’s path through the nine circles of Hell (Inferno from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy), with a scientific perspective with an entertaining twist. This science cabaret explores human behaviour, morality and the essence of sin with reference to evolutionary biology, genetics, neurology and psychology. Dante’s Laboratory asks the big questions of humanity and, like Pre-Coital and Somnium, it does it with song.
Dante’s Laboratory show features live music, comedy, sketches and audience interaction. The show is funny and challenging. It encourages the audience to take a fresh and objective view of why we do what we do, and why we make the judgments we make about other people’s behaviour, as well as our own.
Like Chris’ other cabaret shows, Dante’s Laboratory is an energetic and engaging piece of theatre inspired by science and featuring great original music. Bring your morals with you and be prepared to laugh, to think and to tap your toes.
I’m going to admit this right up; I am a massive science nerd. I’ve got a science degree, I love weird facts and one of my favourite things about twitter are the cool science stories that show up in my stream. So Dante’s Laboratory, a scientific cabaret descent into the nine circles of hell, is right up my alley. Chris KP and his band the Virtuous Pagans take the audience on an interactive guided tour of the nine circles of hell as described by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Inferno.
Chris opens the production with song and some very cool hairy satanic pants (kinda wish he’d kept them on for the whole show). He then goes on to dissect each of the nine circles of hell down to their evolutionary foundations. For example, gluttony is a result of the period in our evolutionary history when food was scarce. When humans and our ancient ancestors stuffed themselves silly if there was food and starved when there wasn’t. We are gluttonous as we are programmed to want to eat fatty, energy rich foods.
Chris is a confident performer and in between the songs does an amazing job of interweaving science, stand up and audience participation. He also made great use of the RiAus’s clicker pads. These pads let the audience participate by answering questions, then seeing breakdown of the proportions of the audience who have had sexual thoughts at a supermarket, funeral, place of worship or all three. I’ve really enjoyed using these at the science events I’ve been to at the RiAus, and it’s really fun to see them used in such a different context (and you end up learning some interesting things about your friends).
Some parts of the production lagged, but then again Chris has to get through quite a bit of scientific reasoning to make his point. With an audience that doesn’t have a science background this is necessary. To be fair, it may have lagged because I’ve studied what he was explaining. Personally I liked it when he included the academic references, being the nerd that I am, at events like these I always question where the information comes from. Now I can check for myself.
Sin, science, songs, surveys, stats and the RiAus’s bar makes Dante’s Laboratory a very fun and very informative night if you’re a science nerd like me, or normal. In fact if you’d like some scientific justification for sinning head along and find out why it’s perfectly OK.
Dante’s Laboratory had a short season at the RiAus, showing from the March 3-5 at 7:15pm.