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A Compelling Tale of Math and Madness

May 31 2012
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach Post

The verdict: Auburn's award-winning family drama, wrapped around an academic mystery tale, brought to vivid life by its four-member cast. They may not be mathematicians, but the artistic staff of Palm Beach Dramaworks knows a winning formula when they see it. Take a thoughtful, well-written play, cast it with talented actors and then stand back so that nothing gets in the way of the audience's enjoyment. The proof that such an equation works is now on view at the company's Brown Theatre in an involving production of Proof, the 2001 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner by David Auburn. Even if you have trouble balancing your checkbook, you should be drawn into this drama about a father and daughter who each have a passion – and a facility – for complex math. ...While mathematics is at the center of Proof, the play is really about family ties – both good and ill – that Auburn has wrapped around a mystery concerning ownership of the proof.... ...Tanner and Wilson are very convincing as two antagonistic siblings. Kay is a standout, particularly in the second act when he gets to show the range of Robert's mental state, and Burgess manages to mine Hal's many comic lines, as well as switch gears to the character's tender side. The remarkable Michael Amico supplies another richly detailed back porch scenic design, following the season-opening All My Sons. Erin Amico's costumes contrast academic indifference to Claire's stylishness, and the lighting by Ron Burns pinpoints the many times of day in the play. Director William Hayes paces the evening effectively, trusting Auburn's script to deliver the dramatic goods, which it certainly does. Dramaworks makes the case for why the play was both a multiple award winner and a popular commercial hit on Broadway.