Columns » Livelong Days

You Do the Math

Proof at the Lon Chaney Theater

by

comment

Calling all math geeks! Calling all theater dweebs! Please report to the City Auditorium. Finally, your under-understood struggle for polyalgorythmic glory has been given its dramatic due.

Three years ago, David Auburn's play Proof took Broadway by storm with Mary-Louise Parker picking up the Tony (and Jennifer Jason Leigh filling her shoes) while the bard walked away with the Pulitzer Prize.

But calculus clods: Don't get your formulas in a knot just yet because Proof isn't just about the proof.

The play in a nutshell: A genius math professor dies in Chicago and his daughter Catherine, his acolyte grad assistant Hal, and well-to-do Wall Street daughter Claire sift through the layers of his troubled legacy.

During his heyday, papa prof was a maverick, a pioneer in his field. But like so many geniuses, he was a few sandwiches short of a picnic and never quite recovered the glory of his youth. Catherine, his 25-year-old caretaker and confidante, must face the fact that she's inherited some of his mental traits, and perhaps his genius as well.

Thankfully, the play itself (which I admit, I had the guilty pleasure of seeing on Broadway) transcends the girls-can-do-math-too, feminist-after-school-special formula you might expect from a lesser playwright. Love and sex -- not to mention the line between genius and madness -- are all more than fully plumbed in this deceptively complex play. Ultimately there's more pathos than pi derivations: Hopefully the math geeks won't riot.

-- John Dicker

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast