A Disappearing Number * * * *
at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
Review by Terry Grimley
For this rare regional performance by Complicite, artistic director Simon McBurney warned that the company's latest work in progress might be "a complete mess" but also promised it would be a good show. In the event both predictions proved true.
Though not without its obscurities and longeurs, it contains as much visual imagination as you might normally hope to see in a month.
Its narrative structure juxtaposes two stories, one about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan – an astonishing natural talent who left his native India for Cambridge around the outbreak of the First World War but succumbed to the climate and died of tubercolosis in 1920 at the age of 33 – the other about a modern couple.
There are some other characters too, notably an American businessman of Indian descent whose function was not entirely clear to me. Space and time flow in and out of each other with the aid of sophisticated video projections which conjure up a busy Indian street-scene of a glistening river.
These are complemented by an original score by Nitin Sawnhey which at one point is almost Mahlerian in its romantic swelling strings.
At the end of the performance McBurney revealed that following a complete overhaul after the only previous performance in Plymouth, this was actually the first run-through. Now A Disappearing Number heads off to festivals in Germany, Holland and Austria before returning to the Barbican in September.
* Running time: One hour, 55 minutes (no interval). Until Saturday.