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Review - Proof

Amanda Smith
The Braintree Patch
November 06, 2010
Life, Death, Math and Madness on the Local Stage

David Auburn's script for Proof is at turns thought-provoking, wrenching and wickedly funny. Director Peter Kates and his cast pulled the audience through a full range of emotions in the opening performance of the play at the Curtain Call Theatre on Nov. 5.

Proof explores family bonds, personal ambition, love and mental health. Kates' production illuminates the relationship between mathematics and poetry in a way that is both accessible and moving. The actors, however, carry Auburn's material with equal parts sensitivity and humor.

Catherine (Sarah Jacobs) is the 25-year-old daughter of Robert (Glenn Ryan), a mathematics professor whose work is the stuff of academic legend. Catherine has lost years of her life and education to caring for her father as he has descended deeper into insanity. She has inherited much of his intellectual ability, but she fears she has also inherited his madness. Robert reassures his daughter in the first scene by saying, "Crazy people don't sit around wondering if they're nuts."

Jacobs' performance and dress -- T-shirts, jeans and sneakers -- demonstrate Catherine's adolescent mentality, arrested in her emotional development by her obligations to care for her father and her dependence on him. Catherine's character lies in sharp contrast with her older sister Claire (Rachel Fisher-Parkman).

Fisher-Parkman's performance highlights the relationship between the two sisters as more like that of a mother and daughter, presenting Claire as a practical and self-assured adult struggling to understand and care for her sister.

Dan Delaporta as Hal, Robert's protégé and Catherine's love interest, shows great comic timing and delivery alongside dramatic depth. The real chemistry in this performance, though, is visible between Jacobs and Ryan, who present a father-daughter relationship that is fluid, challenging and expressive, but also infused with affection.

A film version of Proof, with Gwyenth Paltrow as Catherine and Anthony Hopkins as Robert, was released in 2005. Meg Young, producer of the Curtain Call's production said, "I think it works better as a play."

The entire production takes place on the back porch of Catherine and Robert's home, and the intimate setting of the Curtain Call makes Young's assessment apt, as audience members are close enough to feel that they are watching the scenes unfold from Catherine and Robert's backyard.

The production of Proof continues this week on Nov. 11, 12 and 13 at 8pm. General admission tickets are $18 and can be reserved through the theater's website or purchased at the door.

The Curtain Call Theatre's next production will be a comedy, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. Auditions for this show will take place on Dec. 6 and 7.