Does mathematics explain life?
With the play, "Proof", it is the eve of Catherine's 25th birthday. She chose to take care of her father, a mathematical genius who has taught at the University of Chicago but who also suffered from being mentally ill instead of attending college. Now that her father has just died, Catherine has agreed to allow a former student of her father's to search through over one hundred notebooks of her father's ramblings and mathematical proofs for evidence of his brilliance, possibly finding insight to a new mathematical thought.
Catherine allows Hal to unlock a desk drawer that contains one notebook. The beginning of this particular document rambles but does appear to prove a mathematical question that has never been solved. This discovery could revolutionize the world of academic mathematics.
Life is seldom simple and Catherine tells the grad student and her sister, Claire, that she wrote the proof. Claire does not believe this but thinks that Catherine is mentally ill. Hal, the grad student, quickly discovers his attraction to Catherine and wants to believe her. This conflict about who wrote the mathematical proof also shows the many unsolved proofs that are in daily life.
There are many insightful lines throughout this two act play. "She's not my friend. She's my sister." definitely explains the relationship between Catherine and Claire. When Catherine wonders about possibly inheriting a mental illness she states, "Am I crazy? Crazy people don't ask if they are crazy." While observing everyday life, Catherine states, "All I see are compromises, approximations."
Jesse Hager is superb in the demanding role of Catherine. As Catherine wavers through the conflicts of being a care giver and sacrificing her own college education, she is also attempting to find out her own independence. Eric Griffith as Robert, the unstable mathematical genius, shows the ever shifting fine line between insanity and brilliance. Corie Grant Leanne is perfect as the nurturing sister who lives in New York. She perfectly matches this conflicted character who helps Catherine and Robert from a distance while also believing that her decisions are for everyone's best. They just don't realize it yet. Hal, portrayed by Matthew Hemmingway, truly becomes the character both wanting time to discover the brilliance of his mentor in the notebooks while being attracted to Catherine and wondering if she is also mentally ill. All the support staff are outstanding with the lighting, props, sound, and stage management that are completely unnoticed because they blended perfectly with the story.
"Proof" has won numerous award including a Pulitzer and was nominated for a Tony Award in 2001. "Proof" continues at the Chanticleer Theater through February 10th with performances on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. and Sunday at 2 pm. Contact the Chanticleer box office at 712-323-9955 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The tickets cost $ 17 for adults, $ 14 for seniors, and $ 9 for students.
See "Proof" this weekend for an excellent thought-provoking play.