Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 27, 2015


Playhouse on Park, West Hartford, CT
through February 8, 2015
by Jennifer Curran

Nearly 15 years ago "Proof," written by David Auburn, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play. "Proof” has been produced in community, regional and professional theatres across the globe. Its themes of logic and reason, right and wrong, and trust and love are universal, but bring these deeply human emotions into the ultra-logical world of math, ambition, academia, and insanity and the result is extraordinarily profound.

The play is a story told through the eyes of Catherine, the daughter of Robert (Damian Buzzerio), a genius mathematician. Recently deceased after struggling with mental illness for several years, Robert was cared for by Catherine alone. He shares his love of math, but fears deeply she may also share the same mental illness as her father. 

Marty Scanlon & Dana Brooke. Photo: Rich Wagner
The role of Catherine is inherently difficult, but in the hands of actress Dana Brooke it looks as easy as adding one and one. Brooke brings Catherine so fully to life, so perfectly balanced between likable and stridently imperfect that the audience is on her side within minutes. At times heart-breaking and others hilarious, this is a performance worth seeing again and again. Her scenes with Hal, played with everyman charm by Marty Scanlon, are endearing and enriched with a sweetness.

Credit must be given to Melissa Macleod Herion for her ability to find the gentleness and love in Claire, also a role that is a tightrope act. It would be, and tragically often is, easy to play Claire deeply unlikable, but here Claire is rooted in love and good intentions. She is the Big Sister and to that end, we love her for her imperfections, for her true desire to be a source of comfort. The two women lead this production with great care about this family and who they were and who they will become.

With a stripped down stage, the acting is what matters here. Christopher Hoyt’s stage design is deceptively simple, a playground for actors who so clearly deserve a packed house. Director Dawn Loveland nails the casting and tells one great story. This is a truly terrific production of the modern classic.