Play rolls the oddities of university into a witty success

"I didn't Invite you to lecture me." Amy Mansfield and Mika Austin at university. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
"I didn't Invite you to lecture me." Amy Mansfield and Mika Austin at university. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
I Didn’t Invite You Here to Lecture Me, College of Education Auditorium, Thursday, October 13

When Amy Mansfield was at university, she kept a file of the ridiculous or impenetrable things said in lectures: not the the kind you would include in your notes or expect to help you pass the exams.

Several years on, her accumulated raw material has been turned into a play directed by Nick Dunbar and performed by Mika Austin.

Naturally, the performance takes place in a lecture theatre, complete with lectern and piano.

The premise is that the audience are students (and yes, a few of them do get quizzed), while Austin takes on the parts of lecturers in a range of subjects including law, linguistics and music.

Switches from one lecturer to another are easy to follow, thanks to changes in posture, voice, accent and even glasses.

First up is an ancient law lecturer whose lectures, and his doubt that the students will actually bother to understand them, obviously haven’t changed for years.

A linguistics lecturer gets us to interrogate the many possible meanings of the sentence "I love your mother’s cooking".

Not long after, and in probably the play’s funniest moments, a music lecturer plays us some completely silent music, communicated entirely through ludicrous body language and facial expressions.

Different themes, such as sexism, life and death, neoliberalism and the meaning of truth all get different treatments, depending on who’s talking about them and how excitable, boring or comprehensible the lecturer is. This aspect of the play is guided to some extent by basic Power Point slides.

The play’s success depends heavily on the selection and ordering of the original notes, clever juxtaposition, and Austin’s ability to present multiple characters seamlessly and with finely developed comic timing.

Altogether, at least as much funny stuff as I encountered in my student years has been condensed and presented in a one-hour package.