prelude to a numberGeddes Loom is a band which got lost in the theatre section. In its debut piece, Prelude to a Number, it tries to make sense of the chaos of the universe. You certainly couldn’t accuse it of lacking ambition. Prelude to a Number is principally about maths. More specifically the number Phi and how it represents itself in day to day life. For many, Phi is something you learnt in a classroom, but for Geddes Loom it is a number that seems to pop up all over the place – in art and nature, in our bodies and in architecture. For the characters in Prelude to a Number, it might just be the solution they are looking for. The piece uses live-looped music, spoken word and storytelling to tell three loosely connected stories. Tessa needs to find a way of holding her life together. Leon is searching for the secret that can bring him both wealth and happiness. And somewhere a maths teacher is wondering about the divine proportions of a drum break that beats through his life. The stage looks like a cross between a classroom and a recording studio, combining blackboards and soundboards with chalk and a cello. Despite its interest in numbers, the piece is characterised by a sort of disorder. There is no clear structure, with songs and speeches appearing with the infrequency of late night buses. The possibilities of this irregular interaction between music and maths are occasionally rich. Maths has a quantifiable dependability. Music, meanwhile, is more momentary, its meaning often transient and allusive. The music in the piece transports us to a place of reflection, drifting in and out, we can detect the patterns for ourselves. Geddes Loom are accomplished musicians, but they still have a bit to learn about storytelling. And although the spoken word is never guilty of pretension, it lacks a complexity that their music so often has. Too often it is guilty of prying out the patterns, force-feeding us stories about numbers which are at best overwrought and at worst just plain dreary. There’s lots to admire here, but in the end it doesn’t quite add up. Prelude to a Number is at Northern Stage at King’s Hall (Venue 73) until 23 August. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.