David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof kicks off the McCarter 2013-14 theater season. It’s an intriguing story of the work of a prodigy, and relationships. While this is a perfect play for a college town, you don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate this work.
The story begins with Robert, played by Michael Siberry, who was a University of Chicago professor before he died. He left behind the legacies of his two daughters, Claire, played by Jessica Dickey, and Catherine (in her mid 20s), played by Kristen Bush, plus his pioneering work accomplished when he was younger than Catherine.
“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” ~ Aristotle
Robert was unfortunately struck by mental illness. One of his former students, Hal played by Michael Braun, idolized him during a year of clarity. He asked Catherine if he could review Robert’s work, hoping that his work that year had been documented in one of his notebooks.
Meanwhile, Catherine has been “seeing” her recently deceased father, and has been having conversations with him. The question is, has his madness been passed down to her, and if so, has she inherited his genius as well? After a while, Hal discovers a brilliant proof, which Catherine claimed to have written. Was it her father’s last breakthrough, which would indicate that Catherine is delusional, or is she a chip off the old block? She tries to prove the proof is hers.
The performances of this four actor play were spot on. Kristen Bush’s portrayal of Catherine was mesmerizing. Her awkwardness and introverted personality paired with nervous mannerisms, ease of discussing mathematics, and the nurturing of her father felt very natural. Michael Siberry was perfect as the “nutty professor” Robert, and showed a loving side as father to Catherine. Jessica Dickey allowed her character Claire to be somewhat disconnected from her sister’s and father’s world, yet was able to show a hint of jealousy of the relationship between Catherine and their father, as well as a bit of animosity for making sacrifices to support them. Michael Braun performance was impressive, and made Hal seem somewhat cool and extroverted for a nerd, and had amazing chemistry with Kristen Bush.
As usual, Emily Mann has brilliantly directed this play. Lighting, sound, and set are all wonderful. I especially liked the sounds of a dog barking in the distance, the architecture and props including the window air conditioner, and the writing desk on the back porch. There were many great details on the set, as well as in the performances. Proof is riveting under Mann’s direction, and I highly recommend it!
Sunday, September 29 – Proof in Conversation: Creative Genius, Extraordinary Ways of Thinking, and Ill- and Well-Being.
Panel guests will include:
- Silvia Nasar, journalist, Columbia University professor and best-selling author of A Beautiful Mind.
- Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, cognitive psychologist, New York University adjunct professor, author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, and popular science writer and blogger.
The panel discussion will begin on the Berlind stage at approximately 4 PM. No RSVP or ticket is required to attend the discussion; it is free and open to the public.
Here’s a sneak peek courtesy of McCarter.