The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas breaks down boundaries between academia and the masses, momentarily bringing researchers down from their ivory towers and into a fun, public space.
Dean and Cross are the best science teachers you never had. They are fantastic at explaining “the good, bad, and the ugly of applying evolutionary theory to things” in engaging and understandable ways. Dean uses obscure acronyms and jargon, but also refers to Charles Darwin as Chucky D. This combination of fact and fun proves a winning formula throughout and the pair’s efforts at accessibility never become patronising.
The show covers two main questions: do women’s sexual preferences change over the menstrual cycle? And why do men tend to be more aggressive? These are tackled through the medium of a game, the very-slowly-over-many-generations game to be precise. Cross first presents a range of responses to these questions, self-consciously disclosing her biases and allowing us to make up our own minds. The perceived veracity of each theory is then rated by the audience’s clapping. Finally, the audience is invited to ask questions.
This part is presided over by the hilarious compere Susan Morrison, who creates a relaxed atmosphere ideal for encouraging participation. Though slightly chaotic at times, the audience’s curious questioning was one of the most successful aspects of the show. Dean and Cross finish with a deliberately underwhelming conclusion, or rather no conclusion at all. They aim to leave us with more questions than answers, and they certainly succeed.
The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas breaks down boundaries between academia and the masses, momentarily bringing researchers down from their ivory towers and into a fun, public space. I hope events like these continue to grow.