Volume 96, Issue 74
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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Some Proofs just don't work

Written by: David Auburn
Directed by: Susan Ferley

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

Claus Anderson/2003
WHO KNEW MATH COULD BE SO ENTERTAINING? Brendan Murray (left) and Deborah Pollitt (right) look at some proofs in Proof.
Despite the efforts of a talented cast, this Proof just doesn't add up.

The Grand Theatre's latest production of Proof, a story by David Auburn, focuses on the unique relationship between mathematical genius/father Robert (Keith Dinicol) and his emotionally unstable daughter Catherine (Deborah Pollitt). After succumbing to mental instability, Robert passes away.

Prior to his passing, Catherine drops out of school in order to care for her sick father at home in Chicago, while her sister Claire (Sarah Dodd) remains in New York to work. After their father's death, Claire returns to Chicago to help take care of both the funeral and of Catherine, whom she fears might share her father's ill fate.

During his madness, Robert continued to attempt mathematical equations, leaving behind over 100 notebooks. One of his former math students, Hal (Brendan Murray), asks to look through all the books in order to see if Robert had discovered anything new.

Catherine tries to discourage Hal from wasting his time, but it is clear that he is set on the idea. Things get complicated when a book is discovered that contains mathematical writing that, if it works, would be the generation's greatest contribution to the field.

Murray's performance as the geeky, but devoted, Hal is excellent. His character is responsible for the majority of the play's humour, and he delivers his lines with a great deal of character.

Dodd's role as the motherly Claire is adequate, but due to the character's lack of dimension, it is difficult to sympathize with her.

Dinicol is perfectly suited for his role as the mentally deteriorating father. His portrayal of Robert as a normal, but obviously disturbed, individual is both deep and moving, as his character often walks the fine line between being heart-warming and heart-breaking.

The most challenging character in the play is the unstable Catherine. At times, Pollitt is largely unconvincing; it is often hard to tell how her character is actually feeling, and the chemistry between herself and Hal is essentially nonexistent.

As a whole, Proof does not engage the audience, and it is very one-dimensional. In the end, some good performances and a somewhat interesting plot are not enough to make Proof work.

Proof is playing at The Grand Theatre now until Feb. 23. Tickets are available at the Grand Theatre box office, 672-8800.


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