‘Proof’ was impeccable.
David Auburn’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, ‘Proof’, comes to life in the heart of Fortitude Valley at the intimate Ad Astra Theatre.
‘Proof’ follows the story of 25-year-old Catherine as she cares for her brilliant except mentally unstable father, a mathematician. Now, after his death, she must deal with her own volatile emotions; the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire; and the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father’s who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that Catherine’s father left behind. Over the long weekend that follows, a burgeoning romance and the discovery of a mysterious notebook draws Catherine into the most difficult problem of all: How much of her father’s genius—or madness—will she inherit?
In Director Caitlin Hill’s beautifully written foreword, Hill touches on the #MeToo movement and the ongoing inequality in the STEM industry. It is a wonderful take on this play and really helps to bring its relevance into the modern day. Hill’s direction is impeccable and it’s hard to notice that this is Hill’s first time directing plays, as Hill’s work is perfect. The blocking felt natural throughout the entire piece and it is clear that Hill has intelligently thought about every single aspect of this production creating a uniquely positioned performance.
Set design was extremely simple but wonderfully realistic; the production utilised an outside setting with a small outdoor table and chairs, a corner of decking and fake grass laced with leaves. It was a refreshing look at how sets can be both hyper-realistic but also extremely useful and was a commendable choice by the set team Hannah Ariotti, Sandra Harman, and Bill Haycock.
Lighting was nuanced and inventive, creating both night and day seamlessly. A highlight of this production was the use of festoon lighting strung across the theatre, even isolating one bulb and using this to illustrate the mind of both Catherine and Robert and their ultimate demise.
Composition by Tony Brumpton was haunting and extremely useful in creating space in the production. Brumpton’s composition underscored many of the scene changes and the scenes themselves which added an extra layer to this production.
Janaki Gerard took on the challenging role of Catherine in this production. Gerard is an extremely talented actor, and it is clear they will go far in the industry. Gerard’s sharp wit and confidence helped develop their character deeply. The extreme maturity of Gerard’s portrayal is a perfect juxtaposition of the chaos of instability and the standardised order of mathematics, a perfect analogy for the study of mathematics.
Aimee Duroux is a comedic genius in this production as Catherine’s distant but loving sister Claire. Stepping back into Catherine’s life, Claire attempts to take over and care for Catherine, even though she keeps pushing back. Duroux brought a much-needed lightheartedness to this production and was a solid rock actor throughout.
Doll Hunt is the heartbreaking father, Robert. Hunt’s performance is so haunting you can feel the audience choke up towards his ultimate demise. Especially during Hunt’s final scene where his rambling comes back after 9 months of lucidity. As the light flickers out on Robert’s life it is hard not to feel for all the characters in this production and that is a true testament to the wonderful acting by Hunt.
A highlight in this production is Pierce Gordon as the awkward grad student Hal. Gordan’s physicality of this awkward and anxious character was flawless, which is a testament to Gordan’s talent and training. The chemistry created by Gordan with Catherine is nail-bitingly good. Sitting in the auditorium you can feel the tension building until the beautiful release of love. Creating this immense tension is an extremely hard task and Gordan with Gerard’s assistance creates this exemplary.
‘Proof’ is a perfect mix of intelligence and creative art. It goes beyond just the words on the page and has created a modern production extremely relevant for today’s society. Hill has touched on these issues beautifully through this multilayered, and intriguing production. The end result is a piece of theatre that transcends our world into the history books. This production will be a favourite around Southeast Queensland for audience members.
Ad Astra’s ‘Proof’ performs until Saturday, 8 July 2023. For more information, visit Ad Astra’s website.
Photography by Justin Harrison