commentary by: Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier arts and living editor
Proof: a mathematical explanation that shows a statement is true using definitions, theorems and postulates; it logically explains why the given conclusions of a math problem were assumed in the first place.
When I hear the word proof, I am immediately taken back to my highschool Geometry class. With math not being my favorite subject, I was worried as to how I was going to make it through a two hour play, titled “Proof,” which I assumed was about math. Luckily, my tensions were eased less than five minutes into one of the most riveting shows I have seen.
The Berry College Theater Company is hosting their own production of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play “Proof,” directed by guest director Jon Royal.
The show is about the daughter of a recently deceased mathematical genius and professor at the University of Chicago who struggles to grapple with her father’s death after being his sole caretaker for several years. The story follows the main character as she embraces her fears of following in her father’s footsteps, both mentally and mathematically.
But don’t let the math scare you. “Proof” has an element to it that would satisfy any audience member.
The main character, Catherine, played by senior Hannah Avery, is a confused young adult who is perceived as crazy by everyone around her. Her character brings enjoyable sarcasm and dry wit to the stage, making it impossible not to chuckle every now and then.
The organic shampoo-using, black heel-strutting sister, Claire, played by junior Katie Cooley, adds a sense of New York charm to the equation making the show even more relatable for those in the audience who have slightly overbearing (in the best way possible) siblings.
But the show wouldn’t be complete without talks of sex and imaginary numbers, pretending math is a sport, some explicit language, a budding romance between Hal, who is a mathematician by day and rockstar by night, and Catherine and a performace from a Berry teacher.
The show features math and computer science professor Eric McDowell as part of the cast. McDowell plays the role of Robert, the main character’s father. Before joining “Proof,” McDowell had performed in a few shows with the Rome Little Theater. He jumped at the opportunity when he was invited to audition for the role.
“I got back into theater about six years ago and before that it was like 30 years,” McDowell said. “This was an opportunity to play again. I love being on stage.”
McDowell transcends his role as a professor and truly becomes a new person on stage. The relationship between McDowell and his onstage daughter presents itself naturally and does not seem forced.
“It’s a really unique relationship that you develop just as you would with any other actor,” Avery said.
The chemistry between all of the actors is evident. Their emotions are raw, and their struggle is evident. The cast does an excellent job of stepping away from the image as students and throw themselves entirely into their characters, bringing the show to life.
“The show features characters going through a transitional period which I think every college student can relate to,” Avery said. “There are a lot of themes within the piece and there’s something everyone can relate to. The best kind of plays ask questions and I think this play asks a lot of questions that don’t have a clear-cut answer and that help to facilitate a discussion that might already be going on.”
“Proof” runs Nov. 20-23 at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 24. Tickets are available for $6, and students are encouraged to come see the play in Sisters Theatre.
“I have always enjoyed going to shows where the folks on the stage are folks that I know because that’s fun,” McDowell said. “An audience makes the people on stage feel a little more worthwhile. A packed house is a real motivator.”