Review: PROOF at Players Circle Theater

The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play runs through March 3.

By: Mar. 02, 2024
Review: PROOF at Players Circle Theater
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I made my first visit to Players Circle Theater to see the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof. The intimate confines of this black box-like venue are perfect for this four-character play.

What a lot of themes this work explores: genius, mental illness, family dynamics, grief, trust.

The lighting design by Andrew Zebroski surrounds the audience with mathematical equations, aka proofs, projected on three walls even before the lights come up to reveal an evocative set by Steven McLean, the back porch of a once grand house that has deteriorated.

Catherine, played with fierce attitude by Chloe-Elliott-Chan, has inherited her father’s off the charts mathematical acumen. Has she also inherited his mental instability? And if she indulges in the former, might it hasten the latter?

The play opens as these two argue the point. Spoiler: by the end of the first scene, we learn Robert, said father played by veteran actor John McKerrow, is present only in Catherine’s imagination. Not a good omen.

Robert’s former student Hal has been combing through his mentor’s vast number of notebooks hoping to find something to bolster his own lackluster academic credentials. As Hal, Steven Coe shows deft comic timing as a geeky professor with an inner rock drummer.

In the meantime, Catherine must battle not only her grief but also her older sister who arrives for their father’s funeral. Angela Watson as Claire is the antithesis of Catherine, polished and buttoned up. Her possibly well-meaning but essentially clueless suggestions are just his side of insulting. After all, she wasn’t the one to step up to care for their father.

A romantic interlude with Hal prompts Catherine to trust him with a big secret. Hidden away is one more notebook.  When neither Hal nor Claire condescends to believe Catherine is capable of matching her father’s genius, she deflates before our eyes.

As Claire flees yet again, a humbler Hal finally admits the proof in the last notebook can only be Catherine’s work.

The one mathematical joke in the show went right over my head, but that’s not the point. Ultimately, this is a play about identity and relationships.

And if the quality of this production is any indication, Fort Myers audiences have some exciting theatrical experiences to look forward to.

Proof closes March 3, but tickets for upcoming shows are available. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks runs March 14 through April 2. Godspell runs April 16 through May 12. Call 239.800.3292 for reservations.



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