A Rarely Theater Production of David Auburn’s “Proof”

Let’s say your father was a distinguished mathematical genius, and now you show signs of inheriting his gift. Great, right? But your dad eventually deteriorated into mental illness, and you might have inherited that, too.

Here’s the equation: ‘x’ equals the likelihood of you going crazy, and ‘y’ equals the likelihood of you being a genius; if ‘x’ is moving towards infinity, are you already crazy? That is (sort of) the dilemma of Catherine (Trinity Smith) in David Auburn’s Proof.

The dress rehearsal of A Rarely Theater’s premier production took place at the intimate Bebe Theater on Wednesday, March 19. The play runs March 20-23 and 27-30, with shows at 7:30 p.m.

Proof opens with Catherine and her father Robert (Jim Slautich) up late celebrating her birthday. By the end of the scene we realize her father is actually dead, leaving us to question Catherine’s sanity.

Told with much more humor than you’d expect from the subject matter, this riveting play spans the extremes of human emotion, touching on deception, love, grief, anger and joy.

Concerned “normal” sister Claire (Hannah Rechtschaffen) arrives from New York for their father’s funeral, with secret plans to sell the family homestead and take Catherine back to New York with her. Meanwhile, Catherine is falling for her father’s protégé, Hal (Dwight Chiles), now a teacher in his own right.

The real conundrum occurs when a proof is discovered, which Catherine claims to be her work. But did her father actually write this advanced proof despite his mental illness (and now Catherine is proving how crazy she is by claiming it)? Or is Catherine the real author, finally proving herself to be a mathematical contender?

A hazily defined stage area blurs the fourth wall (at one point Chiles delivers his lines from the corridor between rows) and successfully brings the audience into the character’s world. It’s like we’re sitting in their living room — or more accurately, on their back porch.

The minimalist set suggests an open porch (tree branches hanging from the ceiling, a screen door, a few mismatched chairs) yet invites the audience to project and mentally fill in the spaces. Sound is cleverly employed to create ambiance, such as the crickets signifying nighttime. When Catherine and Hal attempt to be alone on the porch at the wake, the background noise of the party continues to add tension; someone could emerge from the house at any time.

Director Scott Keel takes on a challenge presenting a play that he says most theater students have studied, and he admits it’s difficult to make something so iconic your own. But on the other hand, a play that is so widely received must also touch the collective conscious. A Rarely Theater’s production proves to be no exception.

What: Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective presents A Rarely Theater Production of David Auburn’s “Proof”
When: March 20-23 and 27-30, shows at 7:30
Where: The Bebe Theater, 20 Commerce Street, Asheville, NC 28801

More information at differentstrokesavl.com

About Toni Sherwood
Toni Sherwood is an award-winning filmmaker who enjoys writing articles, screenplays, and fiction. She appreciates the dog-friendly, artistic community of Asheville.

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