Play Adds Up To Fine Broadway: Proof
David Auburn’s Proof, first a hit
at the MTC and now on Broadway, proves, among other things, that
an intelligent, perceptive drama can survive on The Great White
In a nutshell: Catherine’s father, Robert,
a world-famous mathematician, was mentally unstable, and she fears
she’s heading in the same direction. Moping around the back porch
of a rundown Chicago house, she spends her time like a female
Hamlet, conjuring her father’s ghost for friendly chats, while
upstairs, his protege, Hal, rummages through the deceased’s 100-plus
messy notebooks seeking a new proof. Claire, the older sister,
a successful New York executive arriving just in time for their
father’s funeral, has ideas of her own about her sister’s stability
As directed by Daniel Sullivan, the performances
are a joy to behold. Catherine (Mary-Louise Parker) is dead-on
perfect—funny and touching and the glue that binds the play together.
Robert is played with touching dignity by Larry Bryggman. Ned
Shenkman’s Hal, a sexy, funny nerd, is another of the show’s highlights.
The sisters must come to grips with old
resentments. Catherine has given up everything to care for her
demented dad while Claire, written—alas—almost as a caricature,
but played with appropriate brittleness by Johanna Day, became
a successful New York stockbroker. Now they confront the past
and their father’s legacy.
The play unexpectedly becomes mystery when
a Hal discovers a brilliant proof Catherine claims to have written.
Is this her delusion or reality? They must decide. Ultimately,
Catherine connects with Hal, a romance develops and the matter
of the proof is resolved. This play adds up to a rich, satisfying
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