The {proof} Is In The Acting

This evening we went out to the Santa Clarita Rep East Playhouse (REP) to see {proof}. For those unfamiliar with the play (which was recently made into a major motion picture), it is a four-character drama written by David Auburn, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It tells the story of Catherine, a young woman who has dropped out of college to take care of her brilliant mathematician father, who has been losing it. She’s at the age where he started to lose it, and fears she is heading down the same path. The entire first act takes place right after her father has died, and has her dealing with both her sister (in from New York), and a young mathematics professor who has been going through her father’s work looking for any brilliance in the choas. This professor was previously the father’s last doctoral student. At the end of the first act a notebook is revealed with a brilliant proof–everyone things it is her father’s, but Catherine claims she did it. The second act moves back in forth in time: we see the father both lucid and insane inbetween the aftermath of the first act. By the end of the play, the young professor is convinced Catherine has inherited her father’s gifts. As for the madness, that’s an open question…

I thought the play was excellently done. The actors truly came across as math geeks (and trust me, I know math geeks). Some of the lines, in fact, made me flash on folks I know, especially when there was mention of how math geeks party on through the night (made me think of Dr. Dick Kemmerer at UCSB). There were some funny parts of the play, such as the band made up of math geeks who play a song called “i“, where all they do is stand on stage holding their instruments for 5 minutes (after all, it is an imaginary number). But the drama was the remarkable part: they brought up the fear that comes with being afraid you’ve reached or passed your peak at 25. They also captured the madness and joy of mathematics, and the blossoming of people. I saw a lot of folks I know in the actors. About the only problem I saw in the play was a little hesitancy on lines… but the play has only been open a week, so I expect this will get better. It didn’t distract at all from our enjoyment of the show.

The play starred (cast bios) Kristen Paige* as Catherine, Michael Levine* at Robert, Phillip Peck* as Harold Dobbs, and Rebekah Dunn* as Claire. It was produced and directed by Ovington Michael Owston, with directorial assistance from Bill Quinn and Nanook. Nanook also served as sound desinger, with Kelly Hardy as Stage Manager, Jeff Hyde as Set Designer, and Tim Christianson as Lighting Designer.

This continues our streak of good plays at REP — not a bad one in the bunch. We’ve heard good things about the upcoming Santaland Diaries & Season’s Greetings, so we might just go to that. Their 2007 season also looks quite good: A Few Good Men (Aaron Sorkin) [Jan-Feb]; Hank Williams: Lost Highway [March/April]; Driving Miss Daisy (Alfred Uhry) [May/June]; All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten [September/October]; and The Unexpected Guest (Agatha Christie) [Sep/Oct].

Lastly, I’ll note I’ll be posting another review of this play tomorrow. Our daughter, NSS&F, attended the play this evening with us and has written her own review for her drama class. I’ll be posting it as well.

As always, the upcoming theatre calendar: The Marvelous Wonderettes, Sun 10/8 @ 2pm; A Chorus Line, Sat 11/4 @ 2pm; Sister Act, The Musical, 11/18 @ 9pm; and Dirk, 11/19 @ 2pm …plus I’m still working on tickets for The Musical of Musicals (10/21 or 10/28); A Light in the Piazza (11/25, 11/26, 12/2, or 12/3), and 13 (12/30). A busy theatre season coming up. Note: Those of you on my friends list that might be interested in joining us to see Dirk, which is based on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, for information, see this journal entry (which is friends-only).

*: Member of Actors Equity Association