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Friday, 3 June 2011

Theatre - Proof - New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme

Star rating – 8/10

You might be forgiven for thinking that mathematical proofs are not an obvious theme for a good evening’s entertainment, but ‘Proof’ by David Auburn, now coming towards the end of its run at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme, would prove (ok - forgive the lazy pun) you wrong.

A Chicago professor of maths has just died, following some years of increasing mental instability, and his younger daughter Catherine is just coming to terms with her loss after her role as chief carer has abruptly ended. The play is an intense four hander – showing the relationship between Catherine and her high flying, organised and over projective big sister Claire, who sweeps in from New York to rescue her; with the geeky Hal who was a student under her father and now is studying some of his later work to check if there is anything there of mathematical worth; and between Catherine and her father – told in flashback and by his continuing haunting presence.

It is perceptive about these close relationships, and also entertaining as it shows each character with their flaws and foibles. The direction is tight, and the harmony on stage between the actors is very impressive. So this is another triumph for the rep system, now impressively employed here at the New Vic. Victoria Gee is great as big sister Claire, and she was also impressive in the much smaller, and completely polar opposite character of the northern nosey neighbour in ‘Spring and Port Wine’ here recently. Paul Greenwood as Robert the professor, Michael Hugo as Hal, and Emma Noakes as Catherine are equally good.

It’s just such a shame that more people under retirement age (yes I know that technically there is no longer any such thing but you know what I mean) don’t come to the theatre more in North Staffordshire. You don’t know what gems you are missing.

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