Proof by David Auburn, Curtain Call Theatre, Braintree, MA 11/5/10-11/13/10 http://curtaincallbraintree.org/
Reviewed by Becca Kidwell
Take x; add a strong cast and tight direction to a Pulitzer Prize winning script, and the result will be Curtain Call Theatre’s production of Proof. The small theater group embodies two of the main themes of the play: testing theories and proving yourself.
The cast brings strength and soul to the script. At the core is Sarah Jacobs. This recent Brandeis University graduate possesses natural talent that creates an awkward, intelligent, and inwardly strong Catherine. She has a few small affectations and a lack of cynicism, but those nuances will go away with life and career experience. Dan Delaporta, as Hal, exudes energy and geekiness. He displays both the self-centeredness and sensitivity that makes him a good match for Catherine. Both actors will continue to thrive as long as they practice their craft and remain open to all opportunities.
Glenn Ryan portrays the resilient patriarch Robert. He tries to hide his fragility behind his intelligence. Robert’s towering presence promotes a believable, co-dependent relationship with Catherine, and although she hides under that presence while he is alive, she is not helpless. Catherine survives despite her muted existence for a chance to thrive herself.
The only characterization I question (although I do not know if this is director or actor’s choice) is Claire played by Rachel Fisher-Parkman. Claire is like her father with the ability to put on a façade and appear to be in control. From the moment Rachel enters, though, she seems visibly anxious, which makes Claire’s falling apart in the second act less pronounced. Rachel is a capable actress, but whoever decided upon the motivation for her character should have tested that “proof” more.
When the play starts, a projection of a head with numbers coming out of it is shown on the main backdrop. This concerned me because the projector is noisy and the projection doesn’t really add anything; yet, before I could dwell upon it too much, it was gone and the play truly started. Technology creates an enticing trap in this millennial age; “we have technology, so we must use it.” Fortunately, the projection is the only temptation that director Peter Kates falls prey to. He goes back to the actors and the script to present an honest, heartfelt story.
While the acting space is small, Kates utilizes every inch with purpose and vigor. Kates’ scene design gives additional acting spaces, including a railing that the actors walk upon. The only place where Peter Kates, the designer, and Peter Kates, the director, get in each other’s way is with the two columns in the middle of the porch. The columns block action, particularly when one or two of the actors stand directly behind them. With this exception, the remaining action continues to be appropriate and energetic.
While the “proof” may not be finished and the outcome not perfect, this production bestows a sincere portrait of a family of genius that is trying to find its own identity outside the shadow of their father. Overall, they show that you don’t have to be a professional theatre to produce a powerful production. The “proof” is at Curtain Call. 11/7/2010. TNETG.