Chicago Premiere

Jan 11, 2017 - Apr 9, 2017

TimeLine presents a new and rare staging of this exquisite, internationally acclaimed play about love, math, and how the past and future connect. In 1913, a clerk in rural India named Srinivasa Ramanujan sends a letter to famed mathematician G.H. Hardy, filled with astonishing mathematical theorems. In the present, a math professor and a businessman fall in love. Told in a mesmerizing whirlwind of vignettes spanning history and time, A Disappearing Number is a love letter to numbers, blending the beauty of everyday relationships with the mysticism of the cosmos.

Winner of the 2007 Critics’ Circle Theatre, Evening Standard, and Laurence Olivier awards for Best New Play.

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Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    January 19, 2017

    ★ ★ ★ “If you love Tom Stoppard’s plays, you’ll love this one. … A masterwork. … One of the best theater pieces ever created about the intersection of mathematics, physics and string theory, a fine choice for a parent or grandparent wishing to inspire a mathematically inclined teen and a show … with enough ideas to make your head explode. … Overall, it’s a smart and deftly articulated show, as you would expect from this respected, audience-centered theater.”

    —Chris Jones

  • Newcity

    January 20, 2017

    RECOMMENDED. “Infinitely compelling … There is a unique totality to this production that, like a convergent sequence approaching infinity, comes close to perfection. … In 2017, TimeLine’s desire to keep art and life in a conversation with each other is as essential as it’s ever been … A Disappearing Number will change the way you look at the world, most likely for the better. It is history, time, love and math all wrapped into a compelling yet enigmatic whole.”

    —Kevin Greene

  • PerformInk

    January 20, 2017

    “In this challenging and dividing cultural moment, there can perhaps be no greater longing than the one to make order out of chaos. And that is precisely why the characters in A Disappearing Number are so drawn to mathematics: that universe follows a separate and orderly reality—a reality far more comforting than the one in which these individuals (and the audience members) find themselves. It is a startling and lovely resonance, reinforced by Timeline’s equally lovely production.”

    —Rachel Weinberg

  • Chicago Sun-Times

    January 20, 2017

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “A superbly multi-layered, deeply human story laced with immense emotional depth, great bursts of humor, a magical infusion of musical and choreographic accents, and such compelling performances that you have no doubt the actors could pass the most challenging exams even without the aid of their scripts. … This is a stunning take on a supremely modern work — one that demands (and receives) its own touch of genius. … [it] could not be more beautiful.”

    —Hedy Weiss

  • Stage and Cinema

    January 19, 2017

    RECOMMENDED. “The one-act amounts to 110 minutes of intellectual inebriation. This perfectly constructed and appropriately balanced work, now in a suitably captivating staging by Nick Bowling, spins parallel plots of scientific inquiry caught up in human complications. … It conveys the wonder of having dug an immutable truth from not so random numbers. Few souls get to snatch infinity from transience.”

    —Lawrence Bommer

  • Third Coast Review

    January 24, 2017

    A Disappearing Number is a multi-layered, complex story of love and math over the course of a century. TimeLine Theatre’s new production of the script by Complicité is mesmerizing, sometimes mystifying, and definitely worth your time and attention. … It is a joyous intellectual brain-teaser.”

    —Nancy Bishop

  • Windy City Times

    January 25, 2017

    “The play—and its more-than-capable ensemble—presents this intellectual material in arresting fashion and also portrays the beauty of theoretical math … it’s energetic and very well done, and the production feels important.

    —Jonathan Abarbanel

  • Theatre Mania

    January 24, 2017

    Yes, A Disappearing Number is a play about pure theoretical math, but it is presented with such artistry and humanity that even staunch right-brain thinkers will be taken in. TimeLine Theatre Company, now in its 20th season, is working at a remarkable level of ambition and complexity with this production. … stories twist and turn around one another, as text, movement, music, and video multiply together and divide again, seemingly as complex and meticulous as Ramanujan’s proofs.”

    —Adelaide Lee

  • Ada Grey Reviews for You

    February 3, 2017

    “People who would like this show are people who like phone number puzzles, string theory, and inconvenient apples. I thought this was a beautiful show. I’ve never seen a show like this before that gives you so much to learn and makes it so fun.Seeing the show is like solving a big long word problem; it is very satisfying and it also tells a story.”

    —Ada Grey

  • WDCB 90.9 FM: The Dueling Critics

    February 8, 2017

    A fascinating play about the most influential man you’ve never heard of … It is beautifully produced and staged, which we’ve come to expect from TimeLine.”

    —Jonathan Abarbanel

  • Chicago Theater Beat

    March 2, 2017

    ★ ★ ★. An enthralling window into another worldA Disappearing Number is at once a mathematical mystery thriller (yes, such a thing exists), a romance, and a tragedy rooted in history. … Movement, flickering video, recordings and live action form an elegant web over the stage and through the story. [Director Nick] Bowling pulls all the strands together with the symmetry and exquisite delicacy of a spider.

    —Catey Sullivan


  • Ascene Chicago

    February 1, 2017

    Read this “What’s Your Story?” feature from Ascene Chicago on A Disappearing Number actor Siddhartha Rajan’s experiences with the production, the math, and the challenges he faced portraying the isolated genius Ramanujan.

    —Mia Park

    Read the full review

Discussions & Events

  • Opening Night Celebration: A DISAPPEARING NUMBER
    Thursday, January 19 at 7:30pm

    This Chicago Premiere is the third production of our 2016-17 Season.

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  • Post-Show Discussions
    Various dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

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  • Open Captioned Performance
    Saturday, February 11 at 4 pm

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

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  • Sunday Scholars Series
    Sunday, February 12 at 4 pm

    This one-hour post-show panel discussion features experts on the themes of the play.

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  • PRE-Show Discussions
    Various dates

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into the show with members of the production team.

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  • Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, March 19

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

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    Sunday, April 9 at 2pm

    The final performance of the internationally acclaimed play.

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