REVIEW: A DISAPPEARING NUMBER

HOW can a play about mathematics be so appealing that it s back for its third run in London? Opening with a lecture by mathematician Ruth Minnen (Saskia Reeves) the audience soon realises that t

A DISAPPEARING NUMBER Novello Theatre, Aldwych WC2

HOW can a play about mathematics be so appealing that it's back for its third run in London?

Opening with a "lecture" by mathematician Ruth Minnen (Saskia Reeves) the audience soon realises that this is actually going to be a story about passion where maths is merely used to show an alternative outlook on life. Two relationships unfold in different times and countries, two lovers and two academics linked only by their shared love of maths. Jumping between India and England, designer Michael Levine takes the audience on a captivating visual journey where moving walls and flipping blackboards open up a world which flows continuously without restriction.

Nitin Sawhney's evocative score features a live Tabla player on stage who emulates the many mathematical puzzles and the emotion shown by the characters. This is most prominent in the scenes set in early 1900's between the Indian prodigy Ramanujan and Cambridge professor Hardy.


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But essentially this play is a grand love story between Ruth and Al (Firdous Bamji). Actors Reeves and Bamji are perfect as the curious couple who try to understand one another, so different yet so in love, portraying beautifully their compassion and humour.

Multi-award winning with good reason, director Simon McBurney has created a theatre experience of unique qualities, a show about passion of a different kind, yet one that is surprisingly accessible to everyone.

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- RUTH O'REILLY

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