NILES — For anyone looking for a good piece of drama, look no further than the Trumbull New Theatre. TNT’s latest production, “Proof” by David Auburn, is proof indeed that local theater can produce great drama. The Tony- and Pulitzer-award-winning play is a moving, poignant look into a woman’s quest for love and acceptance in the face of a tragedy.
“Proof” is essentially a family drama, centering on Catherine, a young woman struggling with her father’s death. For years, Catherine has put her life on hold while she cared for her father, Robert, as he suffered from mental illness. Robert, once the world’s most brilliant mathematician, had become incapable of rational thought.
Now that he has died, Catherine is depressed, lost and afraid of inheriting her father’s illness. Her older sister, Claire, returns home with intentions of taking Catherine back to New York to live with her, an idea Catherine opposes.
Meanwhile, Robert’s former student, Hal, immerses himself in Robert’s study to try to decipher all the notes Robert left behind. After accepting that Robert had left nothing intelligent, Hal finds a notebook full of a brilliant, groundbreaking mathematical proof. His excitement becomes confusion and concern when Catherine claims to have written the proof herself.
Lisa J. Bennett’s staging of “Proof” was both touching and entertaining. At times funny and heart-wrenching, Bennett’s cast delivered convincing and moving performances.
Stephanie DeChant showed depth and angst in her portrayal of Catherine. On the surface, she seemed lost and frail, as if she were nothing without her father. But DeChant showed Catherine’s underlying strength and tenacity with perfect delivery of sarcasm and wit. Her long struggle is represented with an emotional scene as Catherine realizes her father has sunk into insanity and she at once accepts responsibility for him and gives up on her dreams.
Terry Shears played Robert with a range of emotion at various times in his adult life. We see him as the stable, loving father Catherine yearns for as well as the broken, lost man she knew too well. Especially touching is his realization that he has forgotten his daughter’s birthday.
As Harold, Robert’s former student, Robert Marlin was a perfect combination of nervous uncertainty and nerdy anticipation. His affection and understanding are what Catherine needs to start over.
Lastly, Maria Alaina Wright played Claire with the confidence and certainty Catherine lacks. She is constantly moving, planning and preparing, ready for action and concerned about her sister’s mental health.
The four actors all gave impressive performances alone and in their interactions with one another. Truly an ensemble piece, “Proof” would not have worked without all of these fine performers.
X“Proof” continues Friday, Saturday, Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 1 at 3 p.m.