Luis Torres | Rawr
Everyone has endured heartbreak. Whether it’s animosity between siblings, the the death of a loved one, or complicated relationships, everyone has faced trying challenges.
Not only does David Auburn’s play, “Proof,” encompass all of these challenges, the UI Theater Department turned a well-written script into an engaging and exhilarating performance.
The play revolves around Catherine, who’s dealing with the recent death of her father, (portrayed by Bill Caisley), ,a mathematician at the University of Chicago.The story that ensues is a ride of madness and mathematical madness on stage.
Director Robert Caisley successfully captured the emotions of each character on stage and transported audience members into the world of the play. At times, I felt like I was there in Chicago with the characters, hearing them debate about who wrote a mysterious, but magnificent, notebook filled with unprecedented mathematical concepts.
In addition to spot-on directing, the actors made the characters real. University of California, Berkley graduate Lilia Houshmand became the character Cartherine, assuming all the pain and hardship her character endured for four consecutive Septembers as she cared for her father, who struggled with mental illness.
To say the audience feels sympathy for Houshmand’s character is an understatement.
Meanwhile, Catherine’s sister Claire (portrayed by Bailie Simpson) doesn’t understand why Catherine stayed with her dad. Claire sees a doctor in order to cope with her father’s passing, unlike her sister, who grieves by moping in a house full of mathematical notebooks.
Simpson was convincing as the bossy sister who was living a successful life in New York, but she also brought a complexity to Claire’s character that the audience couldn’t ignore. Claire wants to know everything that’s going on and wants what’s best for her sister, but Catherine doesn’t want to abandon her father’s legacy of mathematical proofs.
The characters struggle with loss, family, and finding their place in the world in a way that is moving and beautiful.
Caisley’s production of “Proof” was solid on every level — from the depth of the characters to the setting and lighting of the performance.
“Proof” is a play of love, hate, and appreciation for what you have. The play hit home with me from start to finish. All in all, yet another strong performance from the UI Theater Department.