Review: The Mathematics of Longing


The theatre is the last place you’d expect to explore Newtonian principles, or find pleasure in squabbling physicists. It’s the last place you’d expect to finally understand string theory, or hear lust and longing, heartbreak and devastation, described in the terms of a formula. It’s also the last place you’d expect to fall in love with numbers. But The Mathematics of Longing achieves this and much more in its run at La Boite.

The Mathematics of Longing, written by Suzie Miller and presented by La Boite Theatre Company, The Farm & The Uncertainty Principle, is an hour of exploration and reflection driven by unbelievably talented creatives. Kate Harman, Todd MacDonald, Ngoc Phan, Merlynn Tong and Gavin Webber make up the cast that guides the audience deftly through theories we may otherwise become tangled in.

Gavin Webber, Kate Harman, Todd Macdonald

Set in the round, the staging is simple and understated, allowing the creatives to take advantage of its transformative nature. The cast chemistry is undeniable, with each member bouncing off and between the others. The closeness and comfort of Ngoc Phan and Todd MacDonald brings warmth and heartbreak in the multiverse, while the passion between Kate Harman and Gavin Webber evokes the heat and friction of energised molecules.

Todd MacDonald, Ngoc Phan

Intensely, surprisingly physical, Kate Harman injects wonderfully dynamic energy at just the right moments – though mention must be made of the physicality of the entire cast. The movement incorporated by all is tremendous and fluid, making what is difficult and exhausting seem effortless. The physicality breathes life into the production, adding layers to an already complex, emotional experience.

Gavin Webber, Kate Harman

Merlynn Tong brings such a genuine wonderment to the production, pulling the audience into her musings that are so inviting you can’t help but wonder with her. She is as real a performer as you could ask for, and at times you forget she is an actor in a space.

The Mathematics of Longing finds the beauty in science and in formula. Playing with snapshot and non-linear narratives, gravitating around well-known principles and questionable mathematical theories, Suzie Miller’s writing is unpretentious and real. The lighting by Ben Hughes is perfect as always, while Ben Ely creates moments of stunning vulnerability with his sound design.

Incredibly raw, authentic and unique, The Mathematics of Longing challenges us, inspires us, and reminds us that sometimes, the only answers we find are more questions, and that’s okay too.

The Mathematics of Longing runs until 23 June at La Boite. Get your tickets here.

Abby Kong

Author: Abby Kong

Abby Kong is a Brisbane-based writer currently studying a double degree in Law and Fine Arts with a major in creative writing at QUT. She has been published in Australian Short Stories and has a particular interest in cultural writing. She loves politics, theatre and dogs.

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