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LA Theater Review

Proof

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For the last decade, David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize–winning work has been a vehicle for the actors playing Catherine to wow audiences. Such actors have included Mary-Louise Parker, who earned a Tony Award, and her replacement, Jennifer Jason Leigh. For this revival, Teal Sherer handles said role of the psychologically troubled daughter of a math whiz. And while Sherer brings intensity and vulnerability to the role, director Bob Morrisey's overly energetic pacing delays "Proof" in hitting its stride. But Sherer and the strong supporting cast hit on all cylinders after intermission, and they convey several tender and emotionally powerful moments that lead to a satisfying conclusion.

Auburn's play about math contains virtually no math. Instead, it's about three of Catherine's relationships. There's the one the 25-year-old daughter has with her recently deceased father, Robert (Brad Blaisdell), a math genius who lost his mind. There's another with her sister, Claire (Colleen Foy), who arrives for Robert's funeral. And there's Catherine's budding romance with Hal (Ryan Douglas), a former student of Robert's, who while going over Robert's incoherent scribbling finds a potentially groundbreaking math proof—with disputable origins.

The obvious difference with this production is that Sherer is paralyzed and performs in a wheelchair. But there's nothing in the script or action—Lacey Anzelc's rustic porch set design is one level—that needs alteration. It's a nonissue. Sherer portrays Catherine as an exposed nerve, quick with physical reactions and explosive anger. But she softens by the final scene, allowing for a believable breakthrough. Blaisdell engages as the mentally unstable father. His restrained performance never falls into clichés. Foy handles the difficult task of keeping Claire from being overly annoying, finding the compassion the character has for her sister. And Douglas provides a few lighthearted moments as the geeky Hal.

Morrisey rushes the first scene. The back-and-forth between Catherine and Robert becomes monotone and lacks organic energy. But the cast eventually overcomes this misstep to find the right formula.

Presented by and at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Jan. 16–Feb. 21. Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (323) 960-7863. www.plays411.com/proof.




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