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"Proof" at TheatreWorks New Milford

By From the Desk of Jim R, Take 2, Column 63


(What is the story of "Proof?")

"Proof," as written by David Aubrun, questions and ponders the actual authorship of an actual mathematical proof. In theory, a proof must demonstrate that the statement being made is always true rather than just a conjecture.

That said, the two-act play abounds with ripe, pungent dialogue that addresses theorems, axioms, rules of inference along with several examples of exhaustive deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning and cleverly constructed empirical arguments. The good news is that you don't have to be a mathematician to digest all of this. Aubrun uses language and situations that is very understandable.

Still, there is much, much  more to this intriguing character piece than mathematics. Here, the playwright addresses several issues: mental illness, depression, sibling rivalry, education, teaching, student/professor relationships, death, education, financial burdens, hate, love, sexual attraction, laziness, evolution, the story of life, etc.

It all comes together nicely because, first and foremost, the playwright is both storyteller and entertainer. He knows how to create a line of dialogue, situation or character exchange that will pique your interest. He knows how to create a punch line and cheeky bit of banter and how to use it effectively. He knows how to create characters and how to make them pop. He also knows how to thrust the action of a play forward naturally without any complication or theatrical tricks. Here, in "Proof " you get a story about real people with real emotions.

(Directing and Staging "Proof") 

"Proof " director Frank Arcaro, who made his TheatreWorks directorial debut in late 2016 with Noel Coward's decidedly cheeky hit comedy "Private Lives" is a creative talent who enjoys, understands and acknowledges the entire rehearsal to opening night stage process. He's a passionate auteur who loves to take hold of a script, supervise his actors, listen to their creative wishes and desires and whip everything into shape without any sort of rehearsed feel or calculation.

Here, we get a very passionate work that fascinates, surprises and often leaves us breathless. Yes, this is a very talky, imaginative play where you have to listen or want to listen for fear you might miss something important if you blink, turn away or lose focus. With Arcaro calling the directorial shots, luckily, that never happens. He is attuned to every nuance, beat and emotion that playwright David Aubrun jump starts and he seamlessly navigates the entire piece with the creativity, wit, sensation and pulse intended by the playwright. Well done, Mr. Arcaro.

"Proof" stars Anna Fagan as Catherine, Carey Van Hollen as Claire, Viv Berger as Robert and Daniel Basiletti as Hal. Because all four are so very right for the parts they have been asked to portray, the actual material allows them to take their place in the spotlight and act and emote at the top of their considerable form.  Nothing looks rehearsed. Nothing looks out of place. Nothing fall flat.

The brilliance of David Aubrun's dialogue rings loud and clear. The beats, pauses, exchanges and breaks unfold naturally. And when it comes time for a few heated jolts, surprises and jibes, this tremendously talented quartet of actors gives us 110 per cent...and then some.

(The Design Team)

The design team for "Proof" is comprised of Frank Arcaro (set design), Leif Smith (lighting design) and John Gromada (original music and sound design). All three are totally in sync with the feel, look, style and mood of the piece. The actual design work, both individual or collective, is flawless. And if this creative process is any indication of what lies ahead from production to production, then TheatreWorks is in very, very capable hands.

Proof" is the first play of TheatreWorks exciting 2018 season, which includes Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" and "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks. It is a poignant, cheeky, intimate work that is charged with just the right feeling and compassion. The dialogue itself is deft, important and flavorful. The "Proof" design team keeps things in theatrical/performance perspective. The four-member cast is ovation worthy. And director Frank Arcaro brings a confident, effortless ease to the actual telling of the piece that lingers long after the play has ended.

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