Saturday December 16th 2017

“A Disappearing Number”

DisappearingNumber_1674-300x214 Recommended *** Tonight I was witness to a production at Timeline Theatre which wowed me in many ways, and yet, I can only rate it at 3 stars. This is of course, recommended, but under normal circumstances, their shows are higher in stars. Perhaps it is the content of the story, being based on math, or the fact that the duration of the telling of this wonderful, yet complicated, story is almost two hours with NO intermission, but, I am afraid, recommended is where my comfort zone is. This story, written by Complicit’e, is celebrating its Chicago premiere finely directed (almost choreographed) by Nick Bowling ( based on the original work of Simon McBurney).

Told in a series of short scenes spanning from the 1920’s thru 2017, “A Disappearing Number” is more like a love letter being transmitted to the numbers themselves, as we meet our main characters, mostly mathematicians who by chance (or is it?) have a mathematical connection to each other. The stories intertwine through each other and time itself. Part of the story,the past, is based on an actual self- taught mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan (played to perfection by Siddhartha Rajan) who, over one hundred years ago, sent a missive to one  G. H. Hardy (deftly handled by Dennis William Grimes), a mathematician, filled with astonishing math theorems. This is one of the stories.

The other major story is that of the relationship between a current math professor,, Ruth (perfectly brought to life by Juliet Hart) and an American businessman, in India, one Al (another stellar character portrayed by Kareem Bandealy) and the love, and relationship, that grows between them. As we watch the two stories unfold through time and space, we watch closely how they handle the math problems and mysteries that unfold for them. There are some lovely moments where we see how each character grapples with what they are faced with, both in their particular relationship, as well as the mathematics and patterns that the math brings to the table.DisappearingNumber_P3873-683x1024

This is a play where you need to be in focus, or all will be lost. The story-telling is mesmerizing! I found it spell-binding, and yet, because of the content and the presentation could not bring myself to make it a “highly” ranking. I am sure that there will be others who will rate it higher, and probably some who will be lost from the get-go. I could not take my eyes off the staging and the actors. The ensemble is wonderful. Anish Jethmalani, Anu Bhatt, Arya Daire, Joseph Suitani, and the musician(alternates Bob Garrett and Ronnie Malley)- each character brought to the telling of the story is authentic and is part of making the puzzle pieces fit.

The scenic design (William Boles) is simple, allowing the audience, which is seated on two sides of the intimate stage, to feel that they are in the classroom from the very start. In fact, Bowling has directed the show in a manner where we are looked at face to face by the actors who are in fact, lecturing us on math. The videos and projections by Rasean Davonte Johnson are amazing and add a great deal to the overall feel of the story-telling ( I do see a few Jeff nominations on this one). The original music by Garrett, Malley and Mikhail Fiskel is perfect, bringing the feeling of the country to the story, and the choreography/actors movement by William Carlos Angulo is sheer artistry..DisappearingNumber_1148-1024x576

Rachel Levy’s lighting and Fiksel’s sound along with the costumes by Sally Dolembo and props by Vivian Knouse are the finishing touches on a special story, told in a special way, by a very special theater company!

“A Disappearing Number” will continue at Timeline’s main location, 615 West Wellington (at Broadway) through April 9th with performances as follows:

DisappearingNumber_P4008-1024x683Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  4 and 8 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m.

on March 7th and on March 28th, there will be a Tuesday 7:30 p.m. performance

on Wednesday 3/1  start time will be 8 p.m.

Friday 3/10 NO SHOW

Saturday  4/1  no 8 p.m. performance.

Discussions after the show- check out

Tickets range from $38 with discounts for students anc an be purchased by calling 773-281-8463 or online at

Parking available at a discount at Broadway Center, 2846 N. Broadway or Century Mall, 2836 N. Clark ( bring ticket for validation)

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “A Disappearing Number”


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