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A Radiant Return

Ernest Rutherford: Everyone Can Science! And you can too!
The solo comedy is written and performed by Nic Sampson (Billy T nominee 2015, Head Writer for TV3’s ‘Jono and Ben’, SNORT improv)
Renee Liang interviews the man she had a schoolgirl nerd-crush on, one of NZ's greatest scientists Ernest Rutherford, as brought to life by Nic Sampson.


Renee Liang interviews the man she had a schoolgirl nerd-crush on, one of NZ's greatest scientists Ernest Rutherford, as brought to life by Nic Sampson.

He returns to the public lectern in Ernest Rutherford: Everyone Can Science! in Auckland this month.

The comedy is written and performed by Sampson (Billy T Award nominee 2015) and directed by Chris Parker (Best Newcomer - NZ International Comedy Festival 2015). 

Renee asks Ernest the hard questions.

Why, at this stage in world history, have you chosen to come back to life?

The truth is I never died. I just don’t get out of the house much. These days I spend most of my time on my estate in Nelson engaged in a violent turf-war with a swan.

Why are you one of NZ's greatest?

I have no idea, that’s for other people to say I suppose. But if I were to guess I would say it’s because of the time I ate a steak the size of a car tyre at a Christchurch restaurant. I won a free ice-cream sundae and I believe my picture is still on the wall there.

You're obviously very scientific. How much research did you do into alpha and beta radiation for the show?

I spent a lot of time going through my old science notes from when I was studying at Cambridge University. Unfortunately I discovered I’d left a banana in the bottom of my briefcase and it’s gone everywhere so a lot of my lecture will be done from memory.

In a duel between you and Richie McCaw who would win?

Well, pushing people over is Richie McCaw’s job so I would give the edge to him. I’m an old man, but I did play rugby in my school days. I would also have a pocketful of chalk dust to throw in Richie’s eyes at some point.

You fight a duel with Albert Einstein during the show - how long have you had beef with him, and why?

Where did you hear that? No, Einstein is a talented man. He’s great you know, I don’t wish him any ill will at all. He’s really great. Well done him. He’s done so well for himself. And he’s not the sort of person who would throw it in your face either. He’s so great. Gosh. I promise I’m being sincere.

Are the audience in danger at any stage in the show? I'm talking short term and longer term.

Short term? Yes. Longer term? Yes. I’m not going to sugar coat it, my lectures are physically dangerous. There’s not enough risk of fire or teleportation in today’s teachings.

Who painted the amazing portrait of you?

It was painted by Tomas Cottle. A young designer with a lot of talent. I’ve posed for many paintings in my life and he made me feel safe, secure, and desirable throughout.

What discoveries are you planning on making next?

I’m planning to get to find out once and for all what is in this unopened lunch bag in my lab fridge. It was left there by Niels Bohr in 1906 so I don’t think he’s coming back for it.

Written by

Renee Liang

8 Sep 2015

Renee is a writer who is exploring many ways of telling stories, including plays, short stories, poetry (which she also performs), and cross-genre collaborations with composers, musicians, sculptors and filmmakers.