MATHEMATICS OF THE HEART
by Kefi Chadwick.
Theatre 503 above The Latchmere Pub 503 Battersea Park Road SW11 3BW To 3 March 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Sun 5pm.
Ruins 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7978 7040.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 February.
Uncertainty convinces as the principal factor in life.
Someone once told me an attempt to map ocean currents round southern Africa was abandoned because the computer being used couldn’t cope with all the variables, despite being the second biggest in the world. So it’s unsurprising academic Paul MacMillan is having trouble, even in the smaller shipping region of North Utsire, about which he’s apparently an expert without having visited the area.
Paul seems successful compared with his younger brother – they’re either side of 40 – Matthew. Known as ‘Chancer’ he’s an unkempt sexual opportunist still seeking success as a rock musician. But he’s the one who understands people, while Paul’s unable to see the way his refusal to commit to life with his long-term but not live-in lover Emma is rotting her existence as she approaches 40.
People can’t be reduced to mathematical certainties; so Emma, a solicitor, sees the case against a violent husband collapse as his victim drops her allegation. His misdirection at this midpoint of life is neatly summarised in Paul’s attempt to build his late father’s wooden dinghy in the front-room.
Coming from the Brighton Festival, with one cast change, Donnacadh O’Briain’s production for Natural Shocks reaches the aptly numerical Theatre 503 in good condition, extending its relationships to contact between actors and stage manager, and enlisting audience assistance with clearing the boat section-by-section, to leave the floor open, without the symbol of powerful paternal influence.
For everyone needs to factor-in help from others. And as there’s never mathematical certainty in human affairs, the young academic Paul treats as a colleague, Chancer as an opportunity not to be missed, is sensible to move on.
There’s only one contrived moment; elsewhere Mark Healy’s responsible attitude leads logically to irresponsibility in his relationship with Emma. He’s well-contrasted by Mark Cameron’s good-humouredly irresponsible Chancer. Bella Heesom gives Zainab a youthfully happy optimism in playwright Kefi Chadwick’s least-developed role, while Isabel Pollen has a quiet authority as she gives up waiting for Paul to commit himself, reasserting control over her own life in a play that’s clear without being glib in probing the dilemma of life when 40 threatens.
Paul: Mark Healy.
Zainab: Bella Heesom.
Emma: Isabel Pollen.
Chancer: Mark Cameron.
Director: Donnacadh O’Briain.
Designer: Signe Beckmann.
Lighting: Alex Wardle.
Sound/Music: Philip Stewart.
Choreographer: Lucy Cullingford.
Fight director: Paul Benzing.
Assistant director: Katy Rudd.