Review - Proof: absolutely engages
By Lilian Harrington
By David Auburn
Directed by Caitlin Hill
Ad Astra Creative
57 Misterton St. The Valley
Season: 15 June - 8 July
Proof raises some pertinent questions for those living with mental illness. Can the sufferer still find love and understanding? Further, when will women be truly recognized for their contribution to science and new scientific theory? Auburn suggests that doubt and disbelief by others on their findings, don’t make it easy for them to prove themselves in the technical world of mathematics and science, even today.
Proof tells the story of Catherine (played by Janaki Gerard ) a troubled and emotionally unstable, 25 year old woman, who has dropped out of school to care for her ailing father Robert, (played by Doll Hunt), a brilliant and highly respected Professor of Math, at the local University; he too suffers from mental instability, which his talented younger daughter has also inherited. He has a post graduate student working on his P.H.D. Hal (played by Pierce Gordon), who admires and loves Robert’s work.
As the play opens we learn that it’s Catherine’s 25th birthday, and the late Robert appears to help her celebrate it; his short visit is followed by Hal who is sorting Robert’s math papers upstairs and this is causing Catherine some distress, which is accentuated by the arrival of Claire (played by Aimee Duroux) from New York, Catherine’s estranged older sister, who has come for Robert’s funeral, and to finalize his affairs, sell his house, and resettle Catherine; Claire means well, but she’s misread Catherine and she eventually departs frustrated, leaving Catherine to sort herself out and develop a new relationship with Hal.
While Catherine has been caring for her father, she has secretly worked on a math theory involving prime numbers; she’s resolved the equation, and locked her new conclusion away, but later shows Hal. However, both Hal and Claire disbelieve her when she says it’s her own work; there is conflict when they demand “proof” of its authenticity.
Proof was directed by Caitlin Hill (a first time director), supported by her Creatives. The production was set and costumed in a minimalist and simplistic style, in the courtyard of the father’s old home in Wisconsin; The theatre’s dark brick walls and low lighting effect with simply strung lights, the artificial grass and simple garden furniture, created a strong atmosphere. It highlighted the conflict facing both father and daughter; Auburn’s reference to the heat inside the house v the cool air outside emphasized the difficulties both were suffering. E.g. In the father’s final scene before he died, Doll Hunt, played a compelling portrayal of a man who has become so obsessed with his work, that he’s exhausted, and has reached the limits of his physical and mental capabilities.
The players led by Janaki Gerard brought believability to the role through their level of energy, depth and pitch. e. g. both Aimee Duroux, and fast talking Pierce Gordon, captured the very essence of the character through their confident approach and mannerisms. Aimee as the organizing and interfering sister, skillfully showed the awkwardness of the situation, returning to her father’s place and attempting to encourage Catherine to make changes.
This production of Proof engaged the audience throughout and is a credit to both cast and crew.