Dr Apple's Last Lecture

Young American company never quite hits its high

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 06 Aug 2011

Inspired by the life of American psychologist and LSD enthusiast Dr Timothy Leary, New York theatre company Hole in the Sky have set themselves a lofty aim with Dr Apple's Last Lecture: to explore "the expansion of consciousness" and to ask whether you can "expand your mind without losing it." Mark Junek plays Dr Apple, a psychology professor experiencing a career lull who eats some of his students' drugged biscuits in order to explore the far recesses of his mind. 

A dull first 20 minutes spent laying out the premise seems a waste given that the show degenerates into such an unstructured mess thereafter. As the drug takes effect, Apple's students—dressed now in brightly-coloured Morph suits—swarm onto the stage gibbering away manically, looking and sounding like demented Muppets. Confusing to the point of being impenetrable, the show gets bogged down in a mire of its own making.

Towards the end though, things become clearer as Apple comes out of his trip and the cast does start to explore some of the themes the show claims to deal with. A few profound sound bites stand out starkly and memorably against the blur of the rest of the show. There are also some cute sketches from the obviously talented young cast—a mystic steals Apple's glasses, to find that he has an endless supply of them in his seemingly bottomless pockets—but ultimately they raise only a wry smile, rather than a laugh.