A Disappearing Number

Previewed 10 September 2010, Opened 14 September 2010, Closed 25 September 2010 at the Novello Theatre in London

Complicite's Olivier and Evening Standard Award-winning production of A Disappearing Number in London for a strictly limited two week season.

Complicite's A Disappearing Number weaves together the story of tw love affairs, separated by a century and a continent. The first happens now. The second is set in 1914. It tells of the heartbreaking collaboration between the greatest natural mathematician of the 20th century, Srinivasa Ramanujan, a penniless Brahmin from Madras in South India, and his British counterpart, the brilliant Cambridge don GH Hardy. With a haunting original score by Nitin Sawhney, this piece of startling visual poetry from Simon McBurney and Complicite is a compelling mediatation on love, mathematics and the pain of exile in an age when we think we can belong anywhere and have everything.

The cast for A Disappearing Number in London features David Annen, Firdous Bamji, Paul Bhattacharjee, Hiren Chate, Divya Kasturi, Chetna Pandya, Saskia Reeves and Shane Shambhu. Conceived and directed by Simon McBurney, devised by the Company with original music Nitin Sawhney, set designs by Michael Levine, costume designs by Christina Cunningham, lighting by Paul Anderson, sound by Christopher Shutt and projections by Sven Ortel. This production was originally seen in London at the Barbican Theatre in 2007 and 2008, and now returns to London following seasons in both New York and India.

"If time is continuous, then we are linked to the past and the future; and if space is continuous, we are linked to the absent. That's one of the mind-bendingly beautiful notions that floats through this rewarding Complicite piece, first seen in 2007. The dizzying complexities of mathematics and string theory are melded, in Simon McBurney's ravishing production, with the complex mechanics of human interaction and emotion... Michael Levine's set, blazoned with projected images and shadowplay, flips and slides around the action, as slippery as the ideas that we strive to grasp and pin down. And Nitin Sawhney's skittering, rhythmic music suggests the restless flux of existence and Ramanujan's fevered calculations as he gazes into infinity. Watching this, we share his sense of wonderment." The Times 2010

"Complicite's new show waxes lyrical about the beauty of numbers, the music of the primes and how theta functions are more beautiful than any Bond girl... In 1913 the mathematician G.H. Hardy received a letter out of the blue from a 26-year-old shipping clerk working in India. The untutored Srinivasa Ramanujan jotted theorems so amazing that Hardy lured him to Cambridge, believing him to be an Asian Isaac Newton. It turned out to be one of the most thrilling encounters in the history of mathematics... The show is best when it forgets the annoying theatrics and concentrates on the relationship between the two mighty boffins. But it struck me as a portentous cross-cultural affair which could badly do with a proper playwright in the equation." The Sunday Telegraph 2007

"Complicite makes ideas you can see. This is so more than ever in A Disappearing Number, which projects the allure of numbers. It features a 21st-century Anglo-Indian romance, but the real core is the mathematical collaboration between GH Hardy, a shy, gifted, atheist Cambridge don, and Srinivasa Ramanujan, a Brahmin genius who thought that the multitudinous theorems that came into his head had no meaning unless they 'represented a thought of god'... It's a play which incidentally demonstrates the grimness of the English establishment: the dons who think of themselves as promoting the life of the mind represent the death of the imagination, as they resist Ramanujan as a fellow. But it mainly celebrates unexpected patterns, fusions and links. What more could you ask of a play, that it not only explains concepts but embodies them?" The Observer 2007

"The show is, essentially, a multilayered experimental biodrama that defies linear time, splicing together a modern-day tragic love story with a portrait of the historic friendship between the Cambridge don, G H Hardy , and the virtually self-taught Indian genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan... Ramanujan's story is glimpsed in fragments which raise some unanswered questions, and more ideas are introduced than McBurney's cast have, perhaps, had time to fully develop in the devising process. Nonetheless daringly ambitious and frequently inspired, they are exploring numerous themes here, including Asian and Western culture, infinity and mortality, loss and what lasts, the gulfs between people and, most touchingly, our manifold means of communication." The Independent on Sunday 2007

Complicite A Disappearing Number in London at the Novello Theatre previewed from 10 September 2010, opened on 14 September 2010 and closed on 25 September 2010.