26/10/2016 - 29/10/2016
09/11/2017 - 11/11/2017
David Auburn’s Proof is an elegant and compelling story of passion, genius, and family bonds.
After spending years caring for her genius but unstable father, Catherine is left alone to make sense of her life when he dies. When Catherine’s life starts to close in around her she’s forced to question if she inherited more than just her father’s mathematical brilliance? When one of his graduate students discovers a ground-breaking proof among the professor’s notebooks, Catherine must face the legacy her father has left behind.
Directed by Chris Martin, Proof is a play about fathers and daughters, the power of ideas, and a family’s struggle to cope with the ongoing burden of mental illness.
Te Pou theatre in New Lynn
26th – 29th October 2016
The Dark Room, Palmerston North
9-11 November 2017,
Catherine: Briar Collard
Robert: Dave Rohe
Hal: Adam Rohe
Claire: Rhian Firmin (2016) / Kat Glass (2017)
Marketing Manager: Hannah Muir
Lighting Design: Tim Williams
Costume Design: Rebekah Dack
Set Design: Chris Rex Martin
Stage Manager: Camilla Walker
A lovely play, wonderfully told
Review by Alexandra Bellad-Ellis 10th Nov 2017
After a hugely successful season at Te Pou Theatre in Auckland last year David Auburn’s Proof is on at The Darkroom.
Catherine has spent years caring for her genius, unstable and mathematically famous father, letting her own life fall by the wayside in the process. After his death she is left to pick up the pieces and, as her life closes in around her, she begins to wonder whether she has inherited more than her father’s talent with numbers. When one of her father’s graduate students, Hal, discovers a history-making proof among his papers, Catherine is forced to face her father’s legacy and what it will mean for her future.
All the actors give beautiful performances. Briar Collard plays Catherine with great depth, showing both the strength and the vulnerability that comes with living with mental illness. Adam Rohe is an excellent foil as Hal, the graduate student trying to make sense of the great mathematician’s last work and his feelings for Catherine.
Kat Glass as Catherine’s overly optimistic sister, Claire, is a women trying to build a life for herself in the shadow of her genius father and equally talented sister. David Rohe is the wonderfully lovable, yet undoubtedly crazy father.
The set is quite complex for a Dark Room play but fills the space well and allows the actors to move through the story. The backdrops with their painted mathematical symbols are ever present, like the stage is full of the mathematics that have been left behind. Chris Rex Martin, the director, has done an excellent job of weaving the players through the set and story.
Overall Proof is a lovely play, wonderfully told. It’s only on for a few nights and well worth taking the time to see.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Intelligent, funny, hip and a joy to watch
Review by Alistair Browning 27th Oct 2016
It’s midnight. Catherine (Briar Collard) has just turned 25. By the time her father was this age, he’d published and revolutionised the academic world with his mathematical theories – twice! Catherine is depressed; she hasn’t achieved nearly as much and has spent the last 5 years nursing her father, Robert (Dave Rohe), whose genius turned into dementia. She’s worried that she, too, is losing her mind.
Over a celebratory bottle of Champagne her dad points out that she can’t be going crazy, the mad never believe it’s them who are mad; “If you are thinking you’re going mad,” he says, “then that’s proof of your sanity.” The problem is, dad died a week ago. The funeral is tomorrow.
Upstairs, Hal (Adam Rohe) has been going through Robert’s writings, looking for insight but finding mostly gibberish. He’s a former math student of Robert’s; he’s a little pushy, a little nerdy, a little chauvinistic and very ambitious.
Catherine’s bossy older sister Claire (Rhian Firmin) has flown in for the funeral. She is full of good intentions, is worried about Catherine’s mental health and wants to take her back to New York. “You have some of Dad’s talent and some of his tendency toward instability.”
Ably directed by Chris Martin, this production is intelligent, funny, hip and a joy to watch. Under his guidance the actors show they know when to push the pace along, when to pause, when and how to colour and shade the dialogue, and when stillness is most telling.
Collard and Rohe junior work very well together. They remind us that this is good comic writing (I’ve seen productions that were far too earnest) and the connection between them is great, which makes the alacrity of their pairing easier to accept. Firmin, too, shows herself to be an actor of remarkable maturity and Rohe senior has some first night stutters but is a believable loving, eccentric father.
Hal and Catherine hook up at the wake after the funeral, spend the night together, and the next morning she gives him the key to a locked drawer in her father’s study. He finds a notebook with forty pages of a mathmatical proof that is as beautiful and pure as a Mozart melody. It will change modern mathematical thought. He can publish it as the discoverer of Robert’s work; it will make his academic career.
But Catherine says it’s her gift to him, she wrote it. It’s hers. Neither Claire nor Hal believe her. It’s too complicated, it’s written in what looks like her father’s hand; besides, Catherine is no maths scholar, she’s, well, she’s just a girl. She now needs to provide proof that the proof is hers.
The resulting drama is played with admirable restraint, the actors avoiding melodrama and demonstrating subtlety and style.
I find myself relishing ‘poor’ theatre. I like the simplicity and lack of pretension. Given the miniscule budgets this production and many others have to operate on these days, it’s good to see what can been done nevertheless. Rebekah Dack’s costume design and Tim William’s lighting design and operation serve the play and the players without calling attention to themselves.
I hope this production gets the audience it deserves.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer