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a Drama
by David Auburn

COMPANY : Theatre On Main [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Theatre On Main [WEBSITE]
ID# 2709

SHOWING : March 07, 2008 - March 22, 2008



On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Catherine, a troubled young woman, has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a famous mathematician. Now, following his death, she must deal with her own volatile emotions; the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire; and the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that her father left behind. Over the long weekend that follows, a burgeoning romance and the discovery of a mysterious notebook draw Catherine into the most difficult problem of all: How much of her father's madness or genius will she inherit?

Director Alan DeRocher
Stage Manager Krista E. Williams
Robert Mark Bradberry
Catherine Kellen Jahn
Claire Jessica Reidell
Hal Daniel Sickbert
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


By the Numbers
by Dedalus
Sunday, March 23, 2008
“Proof” (by David Auburn) is a play I have loved since I first read it. A compelling portrait of genius and madness, it centers on a young woman who fears she is following in her father’s footsteps on both counts.

I was excited when I learned Theatre on Main was producing this. At the beginning of the year, they did a marvelous “’night Mother,” so I had high hopes for this. The result wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It is a solid Community Theatre production of a very difficult play.

To recap the plot, Catherine’s father was a genius mathematician, who followed an early career peak with a slow descent into madness. Catherine had to sacrifice her own education and career to care for him. Now, on the eve of her 25th birthday, her father has died, and an esoteric proof has been discovered in his papers that will stun the mathematics world. The real authorship of the proof is one of the nice surprises in this script, which draws parallels between the worlds of mathematics, family, relationships, and madness.

If I were giving notes to this cast and crew, I’d probably first ask director Alan DeRocher to tighten the blocking. Some of the scenes are too static for too long, or, paradoxically, when there is movement, it’s “movement for movement’s sake,” rather than purposeful blocking. Having more ”places to go” on the set may have helped – the set consists of a table with two chairs, a park bench, and little else. Of course, there’s not much else called for, scriptwise, but, given that the scene is the back porch and yard of an old house suffering from neglect, there are possibilities. Or, given that there is apparently a nice “view of the lake” along the “4th Wall,”, using that may have added some energy. As it is, more than half the play is done by two characters sitting at the table talking to each other.

Also, impact of the first act ending is lessened somewhat by having Catherine face front – her reactions forecast the twist, and make that last line lose some of its oomph.

Next, I would suggest that Catherine try to modulate her nasality – when she gets angry or excited, her voice tends to go into her nose, and she sounds less like a young genius and more like a petulant teenager. For this reason, I had a problem accepting her as a mathematical genius. She also needs to show more confidence when talking about the math – it sounds as if they’re just words she memorized, rather than concepts she knows intimately.

All this being said, there are some very compelling moments – Father (Robert) losing his focus in a flashback scene and flirting with the rim of incoherence, another flashback scene when he is in the last moments of lucidity, (Sister) Claire’s hangover scene, Catherine’s sudden attraction to Hal (one of her father’s protégés). In other words, there were just as many scenes that worked as scenes that did not. If some of the specific characterizations were a bit weak, the interactions and relationships were not. I liked how these people reacted to each other, the ambivalences they displayed towards each other, and the ensemble work in general.

As I said before, this is a very difficult play, but a very rewarding one. Its strengths and beauty is apparent even here, and, due to the excellent ensemble work, the themes of madness and family come through loud and clear.

Okay, I may quibble and I may criticize, but when all is said and done, Theatre on Main has a production they can justly be proud of. Of course, I have no proof, but I do ask you to trust me.

-- Brad Rudy (


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