Jun.21.11 | Review
You know when the writer and producer of a theatre production hands you a condom before the show that you’re not in for a run-of-the-mill Rom-com.
And certainly Nadine Thornhill’s Complex Numbers is anything but run-of-the-mill. It’s smart, funny, sexy, and geeky and has no fear treading deep into the confusing and taboo world of open relationships. Polyamory: check. Intraoffice romance: check. Analingus: check.
But it’s not all about sex, it’s about the people. And here Thornhill as Writer & Producer and Ken Godmere as Director deliver a piece that’s remarkably human whereas others may have been tempted to indulge in prurient exhibition. We watch mathematician/software developer Fiona (Stephanie Halin) and English academic Alex (J.P Chartier) navigate the dark, deep waters of an open relationship (with a little help from a course on the subject as voiced by Jenn Keay.) There are many rules but sometimes rules are broken. Sometimes with consequences.
The script is quick and clever, rapidly switching between intimate discussions about the fine mechanics of relationships to the minutia of mathematical algorithms with ease (and technical accuracy!) Staging is spare and simple and music provides a surprisingly effective means of setting the scene. Tim Anderson is excellent as Dan with great timing and delivery and Ellen Manchee as a female PHB (that’s Pointy-Headed Boss for non-Dilbert readers) gets some of the best laughs as Maggie.
The rapid-fire delivery could be a little smoother at times, and some of the scene cuts, while clever, could have benefited from a better timing. I saw Complex Numbers on its second of six nights so these quibbles can only improve as the cast and production gets into it’s groove.
Complex Numbers is never heavy but nor is it frothy. It’s a frank (perhaps explicit) exploration of couples and coupling and the irregular intersect between love, desire, and commitment. Like it’s namesake mathematical construct, Complex Numbers is comprised of multiple parts and dimensions that make it work.
Ottawa Fringe—Academic Hall
Sunday June 19, 1:30pm
Monday June 20 9:30pm
Wed June 22 8:00pm
Thursday June 23 11:00pm
Saturday June 25 12pm
Sunday June 26 6:30pm
For information and tickets ottawafringe.com/complex-numbers