The Potomac Playmakers’ production of Proof by David Auburn, now playing at The Potomac Playmakers, and directed by Barb McCormick, is a thought-provoking show. McCormick utilizes every inch of the stage to tell her story as if it were unfolding from the backyard of a neighbor’s home.
The set designed and constructed by Blaine Smith, Tom Grove, and Blaine Smith, sets just the right mood. It shows the degeneration of the home structure by giving clues to the physical changes to the home and also how the residents of the home have also changed over time. And we know that something has gone terribly wrong and we learn the ‘whys’ as the play unfolds.
As Act One opens, we are introduced to a conversation between Catherine (Amberley Edington) and her father, Robert (Greg Berezuk). Edington makes the fragile, and underestimated daughter of a math genius father feel uncomfortable in her own skin and she gives a very multi-layered performance. As a college student and caretaker to her ill father, she is so convincing as a conflicted daughter who wants to do the right thing and stay home to take care of her Dad, yet realizes that she must be successful on her own – away from home.
Through flashbacks, Robert at the peak of his career-full of life mentoring a student who has great potential to follow in his footsteps, and Berezuk delivers a powerful and heart-breaking performance. As the tender scenes between Robert and his daughter Catherine emerge, one feels the impending tick of the clock that will eventually separate them forever, and also, at the same time, how tension and conflicts don’t always subside, and it’s during these difficult moments that time stands still.
In scenes that teeter with playful excitement, time rolls back to the past and then races forward to just a few moments after a previous scene. Hal (Timothy Sowell), a former student and fan of Robert has been spending time at Robert’s home, researching the details of his voluminous notebooks. Hal believes he will find a jewel of inspired calculations in them and is hoping to uncover the ‘proof’ that will secure Robert’s legacy s once of the greatest mathematical geniuses of all time for the world to see.
When Hal encounters Catherine for the first time, we feel the swelling sexual tension. Is this feeling something new? Or not?
Sowell really understands Hal. He has just the right timing for the comedic punch lines and is engaging during the more sensitive moments of his scenes. As Hal, he constantly prods Catherine to come to terms with her own talents. He is an ‘encourager.’ And he sees some hidden talents in her that her own father never saw. Or did he? Or are the genes transferable?
The inside story of how the family works or doesn’t work comes from Catherine’s no-nonsense sister, Claire, played with assertiveness by Sandra Miles. She delivers a realistic portrait of the the perfect Older sister, who has left home to create a successful career, who has returned home to try to reason with her younger sister, trying to give good advice, yet being overly honest and not always a good listener. And, like many other siblings I know, we learn more about her relationship with her father and her love and respect – or lack – of as the plays moves along. And you also see signs of a sibling rivalry – who did Dad like best and what effect did that have on their relationship? Together Miles and Edington make you believe they they are from the same family.
The funeral of the father brings the issues at hand to the table and the attraction between Catherine and Hal to the bedroom. A key, given to Hal by Catherine, unlocks the key to the past and future. This notebook becomes the essence of the ‘proof’ needed to flush out whom and what will be responsible for Robert’s legacy. The question lingers – can Catherine continue the her father’s legacy, or has Hal uncovered the proof to secure Robert’s legacy?
There’s lot of proof why you should come see The Potomac Playmakers’ excellent production, and it all starts with the fine direction and the talented cast. Don’t miss it!