We are so fortunate to live in an area where we have the opportunity to witness great theater. The Hudson Stage Company produces first rate plays such as the current production of Proof. The play written by David Auburn is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Drama Desk Award, and three Tony awards back in 2001 when it ran on Broadway. The Hudson Stage has produced a drama that had the audience riveted the entire evening.
Proof involves the main character, Catherine the daughter of Robert, a recently deceased math genius in his fifties and professor at a university. In his youth Robert had several break through math discoveries that stunned the academic world. But as he aged, he never reached the pinnacles of his youth and began to struggle with mental illness. Catherine is 25 years old when the play begins and we learn of her sacrifice of giving up college in order to be a caretaker for her mentally ill father.
Catherine struggles with her own decisions of not pursuing her college career and the constant worry that while she has inherited her father’s math genius, did she inherit her his mental illness as well? It is a fear that haunts her.
The entire play takes place in the back yard and porch of Catherine and her father’s house in Chicago. After his passing, we meet Hal, Robert’s ex-grad student who is interested in reviewing his archive of notebooks to see if there is some undiscovered mathematical proof. Hal tells Catherine that most people do their most creative work by age 24 while he is already age 28 and feels his best years are gone. Was Robert the exception and could still produce ground breaking math proofs well into his 50s?
Catherine’s sister, Claire arrives from New York for her father’s funeral and to settle the estate. Claire is the opposite of Catherine, and has not inherited her father’s math genius nor his mental illness. She is there to wrap up the estate and to coerce Catherine to move to New York where she can look after her. In the meantime Catherine gives Hal access to one notebook which he has not reviewed. Here he finds a mathematical proof that is ground breaking and wishes to see it published. Doubt is cast about who is the true author of the proof. Was it Robert or his daughter Catherine? The second act becomes a struggle for Catherine as she tries to hold on to the world she knows. As well the mystery of the proof itself becomes apparent. She also dreads that she has indeed followed in her father’s footsteps on the dark road to genius and mental illness.
The play interestingly uses the metaphor of cold. There are references to cold winters, a cold (or too hot) house, and snow. It makes the audience member wonder is the playwright alluding to the coldness of death, or to the cold calculations of math proofs or perhaps to both.
A very interesting and thought provoking drama that should be seen. Jenna Krasowski plays the challenging role of Catherine and is brilliant in bringing out the internal crisis of the character. The audience can really feel the heartache of her struggles. Jenna has appeared in other stage plays as well as short film.
John Wojda as Robert her father gives a deep and warm performance that gives great insight into the character. He was so effective it was perfectly believable he was on stage actually writing down math formulas. His slips from madness to clarity kept the audience riveted to his every word and gesture. Mr. Wojda’s credits include Broadway (The Nap), numerous off Broadway credits and appearances on television including “Manifest”, “Law and Order”, “Blue Bloods” and more.
Jayson Speters plays Hal, the ex grad student who is searches for Robert’s final proof and who was the real author. Will his search for the proof destroy his relationship with Catherine? He gives a fine performance as the nerdy math grad student, and possible love interest to Catherine. Cadden Jones plays Claire and her performance adds tension between Claire and Catherine. She has numerous credits to her resume including television: “Billions”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Mr. Robot”.
The play is directed by Dan Foster who has brought to the stage a thought provoking drama filled with fine performances. He coaxes the best from his actors who really engage the audience. The theater is small and intimate and the perfect venue for a drama. Effective sound, lighting and set design really combine to create the feeling you are in the back yard with the characters
Proof runs through April 13th 2019. Please support local theater!
Hudson Stage Company
at: Whippoorwill Theatre-North Castle Public Library
Kent Place, Armonk, NY
for more information: http://www.hudsonstage.com/whats-on/
for tickets : https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4075008
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