“Proof” presented at the Shoals Theatre January 18-21

By  | January 13, 2018 | Filed under: News

FLORENCE-Proof, by David Auburn… presented at the Shoals Theatre January 18-21

Those with an aversion to mathematics may not be drawn initially to “Proof,” the David Auburn play that is being presented by the Shoals Theatre’s Zodiac Players. It is, at least on the surface, about advanced math and mathematicians.

Auburn’s four-character play, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001, is really more concerned with the value of trust in relationships than with proving some mind-boggling equation that changes the world’s understanding of the cosmos. And for all its edge-of-your-seat emotional turmoil, the piece is wonderfully sprinkled with humor. Think of it rather as a nice-geeks-in-love sort of scenario, and the work becomes incredibly more inviting.

Set on the back porch of a house near the University of Chicago, the contemporary story centers on the 20-something Catherine, unsettled by the death of her father, Robert, a celebrated mathematician who became helplessly “bughouse,” as he put it, in his later years. Catherine relinquished her own academic studies in the field to care for Robert, and now, obviously, is at loose ends.

Robert’s elder daughter, Claire, who arrives from New York for the funeral, fears that the sadly withdrawn Catherine may have inherited her father’s mental instability, as well as some of his genius, and urges her sister to return East with her for therapy.

Hal, one of Robert’s former students, is a friendly stranger in the house who has been vainly sifting through scores of Robert’s scribbled notebooks to see whether the man conceived of anything significant during his lengthy illness.

As the first act proceeds, a romance is kindled between Catherine and Hal. Their budding relationship breaks down, however, when Catherine shows Hal the contents of a notebook she says belongs to her. The disbelieving reactions of Claire and especially Hal shatter Catherine’s frail composure.

This is one Zodiac Player’s show that you should NOT miss as what transpires is a very touching study of a loving daughter’s devotion. Look for strong performances from a great cast that includes Beth Thead, Chelsea Hughes, Wes Thompson and Charlie Parker and hats-off to fine direction from Matt Upton and his assistant director, Candi Upton. Tickets are online at theshoalstheatre.org or call the theatre at 256-764-1700.

 

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