Columns » Livelong Days

You Do the Math

Proof at the Lon Chaney Theater



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