BWW Review: Granite Theatre's PROOF Adds Up
Fear not, theatre-goers: David Auburn's PROOF, presented by the Renaissance City Theatre, Inc. at Westerly's plush Granite Theatre weekends through May 12th, may contain talk of mathematicians and theorems, but to consider this merely a "play about math" would be disingenuous.
As directed by David Jepson, who also plays Robert, Proof is more truly a play about relationships - familial, personal, and the ties between genius and insanity. 25-year-old Catherine (Ricci Mann) gives up her early adulthood in order to take care of her father, once a much lauded mathematician, as he falls in and out of mental illness. Catherine was once a budding mathematician herself, and in the early scenes (the play does not take place in strictly chronological order), Mann perfectly encompasses the bright-eyed, eager young woman that her character once was. This is in startling contrast to her scenes in the present, in the days following Robert's death, as she wanders, haunted, around the back porch that comprises the show's only set. While Catherine appears to have inherited her father's talent for mathematics, it also appears that she's inherited the mental illness that also both inspired and plagued Robert. Jepson convincingly embodies the professor in both physicality and vocal timbre in every scene in which the character appears.
The chemistry between the cast mates is persuasive and nearly perfect in every scene. Catherine's interactions are sometimes playful, sometimes combative, often sarcastic, as she deals with her older sister, Claire (Michelle Mania), and one of her father's former students, Hal (Nick Perry). One particularly moving scene occurs when, during an inspired period, Robert is eager to share his latest work with Catherine, wanting her to work with him on this "grand project." But as she reads what amounts to something closer to rambling poetry than a mathematical theorem, the audience can feel the switch being flipped, that she realizes that she must put her life on hold to make sure her father will be okay.
While the set does not change, the lighting (both aspects of the show also designed by David Jepsen and executed by Anna Convery) helps to provide the mood and the state of mind of our characters - sometimes lucid, sometimes murky.
While some questions are left unanswered and one almost wishes there were just a few more minutes to the final scene, this is a flaw of the play itself and not of the production. Granite Theatre's Proof is proof positive of a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking evening of theatre.
Tickets for Proof are available through www.grantitetheatre.com or by calling the box office at 401-596-2341. General tickets are $20, but discounts for seniors over 62 years old and children 12 years and under are available. Performances are Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm, except Thursday May 3rd and Sunday May 13th.
Photo credit: Granite Theatre