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Theatre by numbers

Any play about science or scientists has to get across the excitement and importance of its subject without turning into a lecture. How have writers have tackled this problem?

By Olivia Judson   May 2007

A disappearing number (Complicite, on tour) “I’m here to see Complicated,” said the schoolgirl in the queue at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal. “You mean Complicite,” the ticket seller corrected. But the schoolgirl’s mistake was prescient: Theatre de Complicite’s new production is complicated.

At its heart, A Disappearing Number is an account of the collaboration between the Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and the English mathematician GH Hardy. Ramanujan’s story is a real-life fairy tale. Born in India in 1887, he taught himself mathematics. By the age of 25, he had developed some remarkable insights. But he was working as a clerk in…

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