This play was a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award winner, and the truth of “Proof” rings as clearly today as it did when it premiered in Manhattan in 2000.
I was invited to see “Proof,” the play now showing at the impressive playhouse, The Studio, in The Villages. It reminded me of a play I saw in an intimate theater on Broadway many years ago. The audience surrounds the small set, which is minimally decorated, makes you feel a part of the performance.
“Proof” is about a subject as pertinent today as it was when David Auburn wrote it. Many of us are facing Alzheimer’s and dementia with elderly parents and don’t know what to do. But when you’re facing it with a parent who is known for his genius at mathematics, it is completely devastating.
That’s what Catherine, played by Jill Jones, who recently
celebrated her 25th birthday, is going through when the play begins. She has literally put her life on hold to care for her father. Jill gives a breathtaking performance, showing with her body language and evidence of her own grief how difficult it was for her father to face the madness that took over his knowledge.
Jill Jones is well known in the Central Florida area, having appeared in “Extremities” and “Twelfth Night.” She keeps Catherine’s secrets hidden from the audience and from the two strong people trying to discount what she has done—her sister Claire (played by Whitney Morse) and her father’s student, Hal (played by Nicu Brouillette).
While Claire and Hal argue over what to do next, Catherine is trying to grieve, set a path for her life in the midst of her uncertainty, and deal with the fact she may inherit the debilitating illness her father had. Lon Ward Abrams gives subtlety and charm to the role of Catherine’s father Robert. He doesn’t overwhelm the performance with his own darkness and loss. He just tries to help Catherine understand their relationship and herself.
It is Hal who adds the touch of romance to the play, making it apparent he has strong feelings for Catherine, but it could be his love of math may take precedence.
This small theater in The Villages has done a superb job of bringing an award-winning play to an appreciative audience. The minimal setting (the back porch of a small home near the University of Chicago) was as much a character as the cast. It’s obvious every element of this theater has been laid out with skill and complete professionalism. The only thing missing from a Broadway performance was walking out into the neon glare of Times Square.
“Proof” will be at The Studio Theater through April 30. For tickets, see www.TheSharonStudio.com or call 352.751.7799. The Studio Theater is an extension of The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center in Spanish Spring Town Square.