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.