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Not a review of The Dark Side, Radio 2 Monday 26th August, 10pm – available in iPlayer, if you want to listen to it yourself

Tonight’s blog was going to be about last night’s Radio 2 play, The Dark Side, by Tom Stoppard.

I love Tom Stoppard. If you asked me what my favourite play was, it would be Arcadia.  Arcadia may not be the best play I’ve ever seen (although certainly one of them) but it was the right play at the right time. When I first saw it, I was a seventeen year old mathematician. I used to do competitions against other schoolkids. I spent my spare time trying to unlock geometric diagrams for fun. Trying to trick equations into giving up their secrets.

For all its fifteen minutes of fame, Chaos theory, one of the themes of Arcadia, is a minor branch of maths. But nevertheless, here was a play about maths, which I was about to go to University to study.  And I was watching this wonderfully moving play about this amazing teenaged girl mathematician. It was funny too. It had everything.

Since then, I’ve been generally disappointed at the way Science and Maths are treated in art (outside of science fiction, and into the mainstream). A friend of mine once recommended The End of Mr Y to me. She thought it was amazingly deep. I just couldn’t stomach it. The basic problem was the inclusion of a degree level student expositing about the wonders of what is only GCSE level physics. By the time you get to University in a science subject, you are basically grinding through incredibly hard maths and whatever the initial electric wonderment it was at the age of sixteen or seventeen (for me it was e-to-the-i-pi-equals-minus-one) that inspired you was, it’s still there, but the moment’s kinda passed for actually talking about it.

After Arcadia, I am expecting great things from a Tom Stoppard play.

The problem is, I am a tiny bit young for Pink Floyd. To be honest, they’re not really my sort of thing. I don’t get it. I’m kinda like – man, lighten up? Result: I have absolutely no idea at all what is going on in The Dark Side. Sorry. I apologise for my cultural deficiency if you were tuning in expecting some cultural enlightenment.  Have some cakes instead.



  1. Serena Trowbridge

    Arcadia is my favourite play too! I shall have to go and listen to The Dark Side now – but I know nothing about Pink Floyd either…

    • It may just have been me lacking patience… But good luck with The Dark Side.

      There was something about the cleverness but also the humanity and humour of Arcadia which I haven’t found so striking in any other play.

      • Serena Trowbridge

        Yes, I agree about Arcadia – when we left the theatre I wanted to go back immediately and see it again, and I bought the play script the next day. I might just go and have a look at it now 🙂

      • Talking about wanting to take a bit of it away with you, I hankered for years and still do to find the piano sheet music to play the tune that goes with it BUT I never found it 😦

      • Serena Trowbridge

        That would be exciting, it hadn’t even occurred to me. Perhaps a theatre company could help… I want a tortoise called Plautus. My husband refuses 🙂

      • My friend pet sat a tortoise once. They look innocuous but are terrifying! She explained that she would let it out for a walk around twice a day and all the time you’d be terrified it was going to disappear and you’d never see it again.

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