Pi Theatre’s recently finished up the second run of their show Long Division which uses math to tell the story of 7 people connected through tragedy.
I have an aversion to things that seem to be trying too hard to be artistic without providing anything substantial to back them up, and Long Division occasionally teetered into frustration. Hinting at tragedy for all 90 minutes, each of the seven characters is given a monologue with math metaphors and choreography.
I understand wanting to tell the story of a school shooting, bullying, and Islamaphobia in a different way – to bring something new to the discussion – but I’m not sure that math and analogies using consistently heavy language is the right way either. The actors delved into mathematical discussions frequently, at points losing me in the process. It isn’t that the show was overly complex, but it was dense.
The actors delivered these parts well, but the show frequently became more math class and less about the story. We were left with too many questions about the actual events of the tragedy, and without enough pieces to tie it together. Perhaps as the script was streamlined things were cut to make way for the math explanations but after the first few monologues, the unique concept of interposing textbook teachings into a play felt tired.
But then we come to the root of my issue – I’m not sure what the point was. Is the focus on math, with a common yet still sometimes interesting story running through? Or on that story, with an overpowering use of math to tie them together? I was constantly battling between those two ideas in my head – and the addition of meta moments only added to my confusion. I left a little unsure of what to take from it, and that hasn’t helped with more time.
Great performances from Nicco Lorenzo Garcia, Jennifer Lines, and Kerry Sandomirsky helped to add life and emotion to the show but unfortunately, it didn’t bring enough.