Watching A Disappearing Number in Theater

analytical Essay
946 words
946 words

Choose one production that you have seen and which you particularly enjoyed and discuss the aspects which made it so successful.

A Disappearing Number

I went to see a Disappearing Number, in the Theater. The production was performed by Complicite and was directed by Simon McBurney. I really enjoyed this performance. I thought that the mixture of maths and romance as well as the structure of the performance by incorporating the past and the present together, was extremely successful.

The most successful aspect of the performance for me were the scene changes. I found that the rotation of the blackboard, center stage, where the actors were able to stoop beneath it in order to enter and exit the stage, was an effective touch to this non naturalistic performance. When this was first used, at the end of the first scene, when the characters Ruth and Al left the stage, I thought it didn't quite fit as at the beginning the style was leaning towards realism. But as the play progressed and the acting style became more and more non naturalistic, and this rotation of the black board technique was used more frequently it fitted in really well and became really effective.

Later on in the performance when Ramanujan and Hardy are introduced, again the scene changes were quick, swift and rapid. Screens were used to conceal the actors as they came on to the stage and then conceal the other actors as they left the stage. The two different scenes which the screens helped to alternate between were Ramanujan, a remarkable mathematician, living in one of the poorest areas of India and the prominent mathematician, G.H Hardy in Cambridge, two people who were in correspondence with each other. Since each of the scenes were short, the use of t...

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...was taken away so suddenly. And pain, for moving on. When Al got to the river the projected image of water is repeated. This recurring image from when Ramanujan dies in the past is brought forward into the present storyline making the link between the past and present even stronger. Because this is a repeated image, the water becomes a metaphor for death, the death of Ramanujan and the death of Ruth and her baby. This scene is a peaceful scene even with this metaphor attached. The audience gets to empathise with Al as he lets go of the past and moves on. Imagery is key in this final scene. The sand that each of the characters pour out from various objects, Al pouring from the cremation box and Ramanujan pouring from his tablet, shows the passing of time. A final connection between the two parts to the performance, the past and the present, the key to the whole play.

In this essay, the author

  • Narrates how they enjoyed a disappearing number, which was performed by complicite and was directed by simon mcburney.
  • Explains that the blackboard rotation was an effective touch to the non-naturalistic performance. the first scene, when the characters ruth and al left the stage, was leaning towards realism.
  • Analyzes how screens were used to alternate between ramanujan, a remarkable mathematician, living in one of the poorest areas of india, and g.h. hardy in cambridge.
  • Analyzes the use of technology in the performance, including sound effects, projections, pod casts and voice overs.
  • Analyzes how ruth's maths lecture was simple but difficult to follow, using mathematical terminology they hadn't even heard of. it was the strongest link from the present to the past.
  • Analyzes how the death of srinivasa ramanujan portrayed his piece of mind. the calming image juxtaposed the distress of the women caring for him.
  • Analyzes how the final scene of al going back to where ruth died creates a sense of love, sorrow and pain. the recurring image of water is brought forward into the present storyline making the link between the past and present stronger.
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