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David Auburn is having an excellent year. His new stage adaptation of Saul Bellow’s “The Adventures of Augie March” opened to universal acclaim at Chicago’s Court Theatre in May. Two months later, he directed an important revival of Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth” for Massachusetts’ Berkshire Theatre Group. Now “Proof,” Mr. Auburn’s 2000 drama about a young mathematician who fears for her sanity, is being presented by Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre, a regional company deserving of wider recognition. “Proof” hasn’t returned to Broadway since it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 and wrapped up a 917-performance run two years later, and it happens that I missed the original production, so I decided to drive down to Baltimore and see what I’d missed. Quite a bit, as it turns out: “Proof” is a superior piece of theatrical work, and Paige Hernandez’s finely cast staging reveals it to be timely as well.
Catherine (Katie Kleiger), the deeply unhappy 25-year-old central character of “Proof,” dropped out of college to take care of Robert (Bruce Randolph Nelson), her father and one of the foremost mathematicians of his generation, whose career came to an abrupt halt when he fell victim to mental illness. Now Robert is dead, Catherine is trying to figure out how to restart her own thwarted life, and Claire (Megan Anderson), her older sister, who has come back to Chicago for their father’s funeral, fears that Catherine may suffer from the same disease. Enter Hal (Jeremy Keith Hunter), one of Robert’s protégés, who is sifting through his accumulated papers and finds what may be a major piece of unpublished work—one that Robert apparently completed in secret during his illness…or did he?
What we have here, in short, is an intellectual whodunit, one that recalls Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” without aspiring to Mr. Stoppard’s flashy loop-the-loopery….
* * *Read the whole thing here.
The trailer for Proof: