Mathematics of the Heart, Theatre503

Is it possible to organise chaos? Dr Paul Macmillan, a professor in Chaos Theory who spends his days calculating storm patterns, is attempting to do just that. However, when his own life is sent into turmoil by the death of his father, he finds that in matters of love the sum is not as simple as 1+1=2.

Natural Shocks and Theatre 503’s production of Kefi Chadwick’s funny yet moving play, Mathematics of the Heart, is an intelligent insight into the conflict between the order found in the external world and the chaos of our inner emotions. Despite suffering from some lengthy scene changes in which the energy dropped, the play clipped along at a gentle pace allowing ideas to simmer and the characters’ repressed emotions to slowly rear their ugly heads. Director Donnacadh O’Briain succeeds in blending the comic with the tragic, creating a highly active world in a static space.

Mark Healy is very convincing as Dr Paul Macmillan, presenting a man struggling to cope with the recent changes in his life. His inability to commit to his lawyer girlfriend Emma, played beautifully by Isabel Pollen, is just one example of the stasis that has taken a hold on his existence. Add to the mix his wannabe rock star brother Chancer, an initially off-putting but ultimately likeable character, played to full comic effect by Mark Cameron; and nubile PhD student Zainab, a believable Bella Heesom, and things begin to unravel. As secrets unfold and past resentments arise, each of the cast provides a convincingly in-depth portrayal of a human heart in strife.

Designer Singe Beckmann makes good use of the space. Bookshelves extend along the audience wall and with the action happening in front, to the side and even behind the audience, it feels very much like you are sitting in Dr Macmillan’s front room (the obligatory low-maintenance spider-plant in the corner was a particularly nice touch). Also, commendable is Philip Stewart’s music and sound design, which picks out ideas given in the text and explores them aurally, foreshadowing the action of each scene like non-verbal captions.

Mathematics of the Heart is playing at Theatre503 until 3rd March. For more information and tickets, see the Theatre503 website.