Arts and Entertainment

David Auburn's award-winning play, 'Proof', opens Thursday, at SJC Theatre

What happens when there’s a distinct possibility that a child might inherit a parent’s talent—and their madness?

David Auburn’s play, Proof, which won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for “Best Play” in 2001, brings that question to the stage at San Juan Community Theatre Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 23-26 and Thursday-Saturday, March 1-3.

A combination mystery, romance and drama, with a little humor thrown in, this two-act play centers on Catherine (played by Natalie King), a troubled young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father (Michael Herber), a famous mathematician.

Now, following his death, she must wrestle with her own volatile emotions, the arrival of her sister, Claire (Julie Greene), and the attentions of Hal (Douglas Schirmer), a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that her father left behind.

Over the long weekend that ensues, Catherine—after sacrificing her youth to take care of her dad—must now battle to re-enter the world. And she becomes drawn into the most difficult problem of all: how much of her father's madness—or genius—will she inherit?

"Critics have called Proof a love letter to mathematics,’” director Merritt Olsen said. “I think it's much more. Mathematics is a metaphor. It could be about music, poetry, gardening or many other creative pursuits.”

The writing and language is what impressed critics about the play.

Olsen adds: “The play is life affirming and smart (in a good way). I'm extremely proud of our actors and the look that our designers have been able to create.”

The play is set in Chicago’s Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago, where Catherine and Claire’s father gained fame as a brilliant but somewhat eccentric university professor.

Initially produced by the Manhattan Theater Club in 2000, the play moved to Broadway shortly after, and was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow in 2005.

After the Whittier stage performance on Friday, Feb. 24, the cast and crew will remain on stage for a “talk back” with the audience to answer any questions about the production. Following the show on Friday, March 1, Dr. Garrett M. Odell—an applied mathematician and theoretical biologist from UW Friday Harbor Labs— will speak about “Mathematicians’ Language in Everyday Speech.”

The Business Partner for Proof is Whidbey Island Bank.  Tickets are $19 for adults, $10 for student reserved and $5 student RUSH at the door. (Bargain night is Thursday, March 1 when tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for student reserved).

The SJCT box office is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

— Editor’s note: “Proof” contains adult language and may not be suitable for all ages.


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