Temple Theatre's revival of their previously produced Proof leaves no question as to why Temple's website says it's back by popular demand. From the successful technical elements to the talented performances, Proof is definitely a show to see.
You may be familiar with Proof, which is written by David Auburn (but also adapted into a screenplay with Anthony Hopkins playing the father and Gwenyth Paltrow playing Catherine). Set on the back porch of an old house down the street from the University of Chicago, Proof tells the story of a mathematician's daughter who took care of her father in his final years of mental illness. The daughter, Catherine, questions how much she may be like her father – the good and the bad.
Molly Carden's portrayal of Catherine was filled with monotone sarcasm and little quirks. Her performance was wonderful to watch. Joshua Brocki playing Hal, the math student, gave an excellent performance alongside Carden. Katja Hill plays Claire, Catherine's sister, and dances the line of trust versus mistrust with Catherine with the audience following along with her. Finally, the performance of Mark Filiaci as Robert, the father, gave an interesting look at the declining health of a mathematical genius. Filled with emotional highs and lows through discoveries and disappointment, Filiaci gave dimension to the role.
Alongside the performances, the production was supported by great technical elements. Eileen Greenbaum Mintz is the set designer and her work is inspiring. Every detail is worked out: not only can we tell we are outside an older home, but we also know that a mathematician decorated the porch with geometric shapes and wind chimes. The fragmented set lets our eyes complete some of the brick wall while the completed porch extends downstage with a swing hanging off a tree branch stage right. The cyclorama hangs upstage – an expansive white sheet – and fills with color as lighting designer Philip Watson chose light that reflected the time of day. Director Debra Gaillingham used the space to her advantage with the flow of movement that showed actors not only in the main space, but also in the second floor office or the living room behind the porch. The occasional blocking that had actors stepping out towards the audience looking off in the distance were my only moments of questioning the choices. It felt like the style of piece was changing. My favorite use of the space was when actors would come downstage to sit on the edge of the porch to have conversations. The play moved through its dynamic differences in conversations.
While "the production is not recommended for anyone under 17 unless accompanied by an adult" (as the program states), it is certainly a performance to see. Temple Theatre did an effective job in taking out most of the swear words that would offend regular audiences, but the content is still mature, though not explicit. Even if Sanford may be a drive for you, you will not be disappointed with your evening. The show runs on the Thursdays through Sundays through March 20; for details, see the sidebar.