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David Auburn’s Proof brings out madness, genius and love

All throughout the play Catherine clings to the memory of her dead father. She fears she will suffer the same mental problems that he did.

Christine Illes
Staff Writer

Catherine (Mariah Mamas) is upset with her sister Claire (Kathleen Verbo) because Claire wants to take Catherine with her to New York. Claire is uptight and Catherine has mood swings. They have an estranged relationship.
Catherine (Mariah Mamas) is upset with her sister Claire (Kathleen Verbo) because Claire wants to take Catherine with her to New York. Claire is uptight and Catherine has mood swings. They have an estranged relationship.

This past weekend, Millersville University Theatre presented “Proof”, a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama written by David Auburn. Originally produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in May of2000, the drama went to Broadway and was adapted into a film in 2005 starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Hope Davis.
The play follows the story of Catherine, the daughter of recently deceased mathematical genius, Robert, who was a professor at the University of Chicago suffering through a lengthy mental illness.
Catherine had cared for her father the last few years of his life, devoting most of her time caring for him and even dropped out of school to do so.

Robert (Ben Spirk) is the father of Catherine and Claire who died of mental illness, but he appears in the play through flashbacks. Claire went off to New York but Catherine dropped out of school in order to take care of him.
Robert (Ben Spirk) is the father of Catherine and Claire who died of mental illness, but he appears in the play through flashbacks. Claire went off to New York but Catherine dropped out of school in order to take care of him.

After Robert’s death, she develops a relationship with one of her father’s ex-graduate students, Hal, who idolized Robert greatly. He comes around the house to look through over 100 notebooks in her father’s study to see if there is anything valuable.
We also meet Catherine’s older sister, Claire, who left Catherine and Robert and moved to New York. Shortly after Claire’s arrival in Chicago, Hal discovers a mathematical proof in Robert’s study, a proof so big it could change the course of mathematical history. But when Catherine reveals the true author of the proof, the play asks if it is possible for her to prove the true authorship.
The play explores the inner fear Catherine has of being like her father, not only inheriting his mathematical genius, but his mental instability.

All throughout the play Catherine clings to the memory of her dead father. She fears she will suffer the same mental problems that he did.
All throughout the play Catherine clings to the memory of her dead father. She fears she will suffer the same mental problems that he did.

University Theater had an excellent performance this past Saturday evening when I attended. The setting took place on the back porch of Catherine’s home and did not change throughout the show. The set was set up very nicely, and was neatly constructed. It really seemed as if we were sitting around someone’s backyard. But it was the acting that really made the show, of course. The cast was fantastic, and they all gave an emotional and intense performance. Catherine was played by senior, Mariah Mamas, Hal was played by senior Paul Goraczko, Claire was played by senior Kathleen Verbo, and Robert was played by senior Ben Spirk. The cast gave an impressive performance.
They made Catherine’s story unfold, bringing to life the chemistry between Catherine and Hal, the estranged relationship between her and Claire, and the difficult times she had to go through with caring for her father. I must say, I was definitely not disappointed with anything and I was impressed with each one of the actors.
I could really tell there was a lot of time and effort put into this show, and I very much enjoyed it.  I recommend anyone to go out and see it, because it really is an interesting and intense show to see. It is two and a half hours well spent
There are four more upcoming performances of “Proof” this weekend, March 7, 8, and 9 at 8 p.m. and March 10 at 2 p.m. at Rafters Theatre, Dutcher Hall. Tickets can be purchased at the Student Memorial Ticket Window Monday-Friday 8:00-4:30 or at the door.

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