Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Proof"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Larry Jay Tish

"Proof" Review

Reviewed by Larry Jay Tish

Get in the car + drive over the Tobin Bridge = incredible Boston theatre. For some reason this equation never adds up in the minds of the Boston theatre going public. Well, itís time to do the math again for Theatrezones brilliant production of David Auburnís Proof.

First of all, WHAT A PLAY! You do not garner a Pulitzer Prize and Tony unless your Act 1 + Act 2 = WOW! David Auburnís words alone, read by four MIT geeks on bar stools would probably cause you to sing the praises of this playwright. But, alas, the cast increases the impact of the words on the page exponentially. From the opening scene where Catherine (Becca Lewis) and her father (Jeff Gill) converse, we are swept away by their connection, caring, love, and conflict. Becca plays Catherine with just the right balance of smarts, vulnerability, self-doubt, and self-hatred, to tear at your heart, expose your compassion and make you pull for her from places thru the curtain call.

Jeff, as her aging and sick genius father, is so believable and truthful it made me feel as though he had been studying the lines everyday for the past twenty years. Each word and phrase carried truth and emanated from his heart effortlessly and with feeling. When he was on stage the scenes burst with energy and this little black box theatre seemed to be on 47th and Broadway. Jeff is a masterful actor and his performance alone is worth the trek to Chelsea. But there is so much more.

Vladimir Aseneta as the fatherís student is almost geeky enough to pull it off. He has his moments but all in all his character sounded two notes all night; Fast/angry and slow/empathetic. Mr. Aseneta also has a habit of using his hands a bit too much to express his emotion. Vlad is a fine actor who I have seen grab an audience and take them on a emotional roller coaster within the confines of one ten-minute monologue. In the performance I saw (opening night) I believe he was still finding his way to the top of the ride. Perhaps into the run he will become the Cyclone of an actor he is capable of being.

Christine Hamel as Catherineís sister does a fine job of convincing us that she is the Long Island bitch she was meant to be. We hate her right off and start to feel some empathy for her, but never enough to lend her a helping hand. The only place she lost me was when she began a scene hung over from a night of partying and two minutes into the scene her hangover had lifted and she was her good-old-bitchy-high-energy self again. Other than that she brought lots of peppery spice to the play.

The set by Gigi Mederos and Julia Noulin-Merat is astounding. It takes the space available and with the craft of a fine painter, uses the science of perspective to thrust us into the backyard of this simple college town home. The lighting is simple yet effective, and the music and sound elevates the vibe that Mr. Auburnís words were meant to convey. Danielle Fauteux Jacques direction assists the players in getting Mr. Auburnís intent across to us. Her overall orchestration of set, sound, light, costume, and action is masterful.

So hop over the Tobin, skip the movie, and jump into another wonderful production of the Chelseaís Theatre WorksÖ because it all does add up to a superb evening of theatre.

"Proof" (13 October - 6 November)
Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street, CHELSEA MA
1 (617)887-2336

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide