April 13 saw the inauguration of a new theatre company, Exit Through Eden, to the Raleigh community with their premiere production of David Auburn's Proof. Director Jason Sharp led the small but mighty cast of four back and forth between past and present in the journey of Catherine, played by Betsy Henderson. When Catherine's father Robert, a famous mathematician played by Eric Hale, wastes away with dementia, Catherine puts her life on hold to care for him until his death. On the eve of Robert's funeral, Catherine reveals to her father's student Hal, played by Ryan Brock, a mathematic proof that could revolutionize the field. When she reveals to Hal and to her sister Claire, played by Page Purgar, that she authored the proof, instead of lauding her as a genius they question if Catherine is following her father's path toward insanity.
Jason Sharp's lighting and set designs proved effective with the utilization of the space, borrowed from Raleigh Ensemble Players, and Sharp let the designs' simplicity place the weight of the story almost completely on the actors' shoulders. Fortunately, the capable and talented ensemble carried the show with ease. Henderson's approach to the edgy and intelligent Catherine evolved naturally into unique relationships with sister Claire, father Robert, and romantic interest Hal. Purgar's portrayal of Claire as sensible and well meaning gave an appropriate level of tension and compassion to the relationship between the siblings. Brock and Hale captured the endearing awkwardness of such high functioning mathematic minds in the young and eager Hal and the older, but no less eager, Robert. The reality of the characters' conflicts kept the small but sold-out house entertained for the two-hour performance. Audiences should welcome Exit Through Eden to the Raleigh art scene and look forward to what they have in store for the future.
Proof continues April 20-22. For details, see the sidebar.