Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Proof" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning "Proof" opened in 2000 on Broadway and ran for over 900 performances, although the show is long, close to two hours of drama with no set changes and only four characters. Its success comes from our involvement with the tentative relationship between Catherine (Michelle Beck) and Hal (Lance Gardner).  Catherine is the daughter of a famous mathematician (Robert, played by L. Peter Callender), recently deceased. She studies math as well, as does Hal, who was her father's former student. But with all the talk of elegant mathematical proofs, no one is willing to believe that the untrained Catherine has her father's talent, even when presented with her own elegant theory -- her proof.

There are many wonderful moments, such as her father's flashback monologue about September in Chicago. Robert is perfectly academic, while Hal is a terrific geek, honest and winning while timidly courting Catherine. Superficial big sister Claire (Ashley Bryant) is a little hard to take, interested primarily in getting away from Chicago as she did long ago, leaving Catherine to take care of their ailing father.

It is fascinating that this show, which was cast with white actors originally as was the 2005 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwynneth Paltrow, here is presented with a black cast which gives an extra dimension to the issues discussed. The casting works perfectly and this ensemble makes us feel the roles could have been written for them. We love Gregory Robinson's excellent bluesy musical cues between scenes.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Proof" THREE STARS with a Bangle of Praise. The story, the cast and the director (Leslie Martinson) earn one star each while the Bangle of Praise is for the fabulous one-liner that terminates Act One. It's great when you can't wait for Act Two.

Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through November 1

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