“Proof” is the first play of the semester put on by the Arizona Repertory Theatre. The show is strong overall and is highlighted by some great performances.
The play begins subtly, with the audience being introduced to Catherine, played by Cera Naccarato, and Robert, Catherine's late father, played by David Morden. This opening scene captures the father-daughter aspect of the play. It's also in this scene where the real magnitude of Catherine's current situation hits home.
Catherine must deal with the loss of her father while also having to contend with the discovery of a “groundbreaking proof” which could launch the author into fame, if only the characters could identify the original author of the proof.
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This is where the story of the play really picks up and, in the backdrop of the Tornabene Theatre, the play is at its zenith when the characters are in conflict.
“This one [the Tornabene Theatre] is almost like a round table theatre, you get a whole new perspective depending on where you’re sitting,” said Megan Richards, an engineering freshmen at UA.
“You’re not seeing from far away looking into a big box. It's much more personal,” she said.
The audience is brought into the fights between the different characters on stage, and while you shouldn’t go in expecting ninjas flying down from the rafters, the conflict between the characters is explosive and are the highlights of the play.
The actors feed off the energy they give one another during the moments of conflict and the audience is pulled right in. In fact, looking around the theatre every so often, one could see individuals leaning in as the actors on stage exchanged words.
In these moments, the play is enthralling. The emotional action is only broken up by the dimming of lights, slowly plugging the theatre and the audience into darkness at the end of a scene. As the play goes on, the real theme of the play becomes more apparent.
While it might seem as though the play is focused on mathematics and the occasional funny line, the real meat of the play is found in the interaction between the characters.
At its core the play is a conversation about the struggle the characters have after the loss of Robert. This brings up another interesting dynamic between the characters.
While Catherine and her sister Claire, played by Kelly Hajek, are related to each other they both have a much different relationship with their father. The result is Morden’s character acting as a sort of glue which binds and brings the characters together at crucial moments throughout the play.
Morden’s character plays a key role and, while he is arguably the actor with the least time on stage, his role as father is one which underscores the entire play. However, the partnership which really manages to steal the show is the relationship between Catherine and Hal, played by Alec Williams.
Play attendee Mark McEachren really gravitated towards the pair's on stage chemistry.
“Catherine and Hal, when they were together, they feed off each other. The power between those two-kept picking up," he said.
The moments on stage when the three young actors are together are a real treat. In the absence of Robert, the characters come into their own as they fight over what to do with the proof Robert may or may not have left behind.
“For Hal, he kind of came on a little slow and came on really well in the end, you stopped seeing him and started seeing the play,” McEachren said.
McEachren continued his praise of Naccarato, saying that the performances of both Naccarato and Williams were the ones which really brought him into the play.
“Those two have talent,” McEachren said. “The connection with the crowd is what a live play is all about.”
Overall the play is solid. It has its quirks and there are bits of comedy strung in between moments of conflict for those who enjoy the odd math joke or two.
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“I can appreciate the math jokes,” said Liliana Ruiz Diaz, a graduate student of the optical science department.
The play surpassed many of Diaz’s expectations.
“Several orders of magnitude much better than I was thinking, it's really good," she said.
There are a few profane words throughout the play which, for the most part, add rather than detract from the overall show.
“Proof” will be playing until Feb. 26 with prices for
UA students starting at $15 with a rush option available at $10.
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