Scientists are always searching for an ultimate proof. In physics the search is for an unifying proof between the inconsistencies of the infinitely small with the infinitely large. In math it has been the search for a unification of the totality of math. Sound like a boring subject for a play? No way! Proof does not get into the math, but rather the personalities involved in the search.
Proof opened in New York in 2000, winning both a Pulitzer and a Tony. Playwright David Auburn has woven an intriguing story of a mathematical family, their relationships, and the search for the ultimate proof. Vanguard’s David Pearson directed. Robert (Michael Thomas Tower), a retired math professor, whom we meet just before his death, suffers from both mental and physical deteriorated. We meet him again, four years earlier and then 3 ½ years earlier, at the end of a short period of genius. Will his genes live in his progeny?
His youngest daughter, 25-year-old Catherine (Erica Soares), gives up her academic aspirations to take care of her father. Her older sister, Claire (Bebe Black), who left Chicago for Manhattan, is a highly successful business woman. She bankrolls the care of her father. Finally, there is Hal (Robert Hoadley), a former grad student of Robert’s, who is a mathematics professor. He is researching all of Robert’s gibberish-stuffed notebooks in search of any insight or revelation.
Black portrays a strong-willed, take-charge woman that literally dictates to her sister what she will and will not do with the rest of her life. The electricity between her and Soares’ Catherine is definitely negatively charged. While Catherine appears directionless, this is far from the truth. She defers to Claire’s command to move to New York City and start a new life. As a last effort, she provides Hal with a notebook; the same as those used by her dad. The revelations in the notebook could rock the world of mathematics.
A blossoming romance between Catherine and Hal is smashed when both he and Claire deny that a woman could possibly be responsible for a proof that has confounded the world of mathematics for centuries. Thus, a major theme, which this reviewer would like to have been explored much deeper.
Master of Design (Scenic, Light, and Sound) John Murphy has created a unit set that works well for the action. Cindy Ryan’s costumes are fitting for the individual characters and for the sisters, expressed the chasm between the two.
Thomas gives a convincing performance of Robert’s varying moods from full lucidity to the driven failing mind of a great man. Hoadley portrays a young man deeply into his intellectual calling and almost out-of-touch with the male-female relationship. Proof shines in Soares’ character’s relationship with each of the others and her lack of understand of herself. Like Hal, she fails to have much command of relationships.
Erica Soares, Michael Thomas Tower, Robert Hoadley, Bebe Black
SM Jerry Monroe, Scenic/Light/Sound Design John Murphy, Costume Design Cindy Ryan
Total Rating: Two and half stars
Author: David Auburn
Director: David R. Pearson
Date Reviewed: February 29, 2008
Dates: Weekends thru March 16, 2008
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