Numbers are cool, calm, logical, rational - light years from the sweaty, messy, dizzy stuff of sexual attraction, love and procreation. At least, that was what we used to think. Recent years have seen an explosion in the ranks of scientists, mathematicians and statisticians jumping on board to spill the secrets of sexual and romantic attraction.
For instance, we find certain faces more appealing than others based on the ratio of their features. Every online dating site matches its singles based not on 'gut feel' but advanced algorithms. No-one you meet in the first 37% of your dating life will be your true love, says author of The Mathematics of Love, Dr Hannah Fry.
Into this numerical new world steps The Mathematics of Longing which is playing at La Boite Theatre Company's Roundhouse Theatre until 23 June. With generous nods to the Fibonacci sequence via the props and performers, this new work by internationally renowned Australian playwright Suzie Miller and featuring Gold Coast based dance-theatre company The Farm is an exploration of light, love, and the meaning of life.
Drawing on Miller's self-professed love of numbers, formulas and equations, The Mathematics of Longing features performers and co-creators Kate Harman, Todd MacDonald, Ngoc Phan, Merlynn Tong and Gavin Webber in an intricate dance exploring existential themes in words and movement. It's dynamic, kinetic, raw and full of energy - all the qualities theatre-goers have come to expect from La Boite Theatre Company.
Miller explains it was her father who first introduced her to mathematics. 'At a precocious age I was invited to discover trigonometry, calculus and space time,' she explains. 'Maths was key to a world beyond words, a language my dad and I both spoke, way of seeing and being.' Her drive in creating The Mathematics of Longing was to forge a connection between mathematics and theatre, turning the former into something 'visceral, narrative, human and emotional'.
The Mathematics of Longing is thus brave and experimental - but does it work as a piece of theatre? If you're looking for a strong narrative arc and characters you can emotionally connect with, this isn't the play for you. For instance, though we witness the characters during intimate moments, they remain removed and distant. We never even learn their names. But if you're looking for a night out that is refreshing and thought-provoking - that will make you question the randomness of human connections and your place in the world - then The Mathematics of Longing has your number.