Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Proof"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Proof"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The last show of Community Players 90th season is David Auburn's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Proof". The show opened on Broadway on October 24, 2000 and ran for 917 performances. The movie version starring Gwenyth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins opened in September, 2005. "Proof" can be described as a mystery, romantic comedy and an exploration of mental illness. The play centers around an enigmatic young woman, Catherine, on the eve of her 25th birthday. She has been overshadowed by her brilliant mathematician father, Robert, who has been mentally ill for years and of whom she has cared for. After his sudden death, Catherine must come to terms with following in her father's footsteps, and with the fear that she may have inherited his illness. As she struggles with the impending visit of her overbearing sister, Claire, from New York, a former student of her father named Hal appears on the scene. The discovery of a notebook with a major mathematical proof in her father's desk further complicates her dilemma. Audience members need not be put off by the fear of math because the show is about the universal themes of love, compassion and dignity. It is also about the joy, the conflict, misunderstanding and the miscommunication between those we love the most and often understand the least. Eric Barbato makes his debut at directing this show. He does a stellar job, winning his hard working cast a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call.

Eric blocks the show beautifully, building the tension between the characters. He infuses them with the energy to keep the audience's interest all night long. The fantastic outside house set is by Brian Mulvey and Victor Turenne while the lighting and sound is by Rebecca and Paul Freniere. Kelly McCabe as Catherine, tackles the difficult role of a young woman seeming on the verge of a nervous breakdown after caring for her mentally ill father. She gives Catherine a sense of sardonic humor to deal with her difficult sister, with the memory of her father and with a mathematician who has more than math on his mind. Kelly gives a powerhouse performance in this role, handling the dramatic moments splendidly. A very impressive and touching scene is with her father who has been well for nine months, she shakes from the cold and from an emotional meltdown. I directed Kelly as a child in "Annie", "The Emperor's Nightingale" and "Cinderella Wore Combat Boots" in the mid 1990's and she has developed into a topnotch dramatic actress since then. Kevin Killavey does a marvelous job as Hal, Catherine's suitor and Robert's former student who is now a 28 year old math professor. Kevin handles both the comic and dramatic moments with ease. One of his many comic moments include one trying to impress Catherine by telling he his rock band is called Imaginary Number-i, comprised of math majors. Kevin has many dramatic confrontations with Catherine throughout the show with the last scene being the most impressive one. Hal tells her the truth about the proof and persuades her that even though she inherited her father's genius for math, it doesn't mean she also inherited his mental illness as well.

Brian Mulvey plays Catherine's father, Robert wonderfully. He first appears at Catherine's 25th birthday where they have a comic banter with each other until the audience realizes he is already dead. Brian's other comic scene takes place in Act 2 where you flashback to four years earlier when Robert's illness was in remission. The argue whether they should have pasta for supper again. The final scene between father and daughter is a powerful, poignant one where Catherine realizes he is descending into madness again. Brian makes this man's nervous breakdown, a chilling moment, handling it masterfully. Eve Marie Webster, a lovely blonde, plays Claire, the bitchy hard hearted sister. She makes the audience unsure of Claire's true motives in the first act by trying to placate her overwrought, sister but by the second act, the audience realizes that Claire is trying to control every move Catherine makes. Eve delivers the goods as this unlikable character who looks down on her younger sister's strange behavior. Eric and author David Auburn gives each of the four characters their moments to shine and this cast takes full advantage of them. So for an award winning show that truly lives up to its hype, be sure to catch "Proof".

"Proof" (10 - 19 June)
THE COMMUNITY PLAYERS
@ Jenks Auditorium, Division Street, PAWTUCKET RI
1(401)726-6368

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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