by Megan Mooney
Sometimes things combine to make a really delightful experience. In the case of the East Side Players production of David Auburn’s Proof, it was some wonderful direction from a first-time director, a great script, and some strong actors, to just name a few.
I often have some trepidation when going to a ‘community theatre’. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked with community theatre in the past, and am really glad they’re around, but lets face it, sometimes the shows at community theatres leave a bit to be desired. That’s not the case with this show (and, given Dana’s experience with Tartuffe, I suspect it’s generally not the case with East Side Players).
When I asked Sam (my show-partner for this one) her overall impression she said that she was “pleasantly surprised” and that it made her rethink the concept of community theatre. She said it was certainly better than some professional theatre pieces she’s seen. She also mentioned how much she liked the realistic set. She said everything she’s seen lately has been so minimalist, it was a nice change to see an actual set. She has no problem with minimalist, but likes variety.
There’s not really one thing that stands out in terms of what makes this play great, it really is a combination of factors. It just works. The chemistry between the actors is great, especially between Dany Savard (Hal) and Rebecca Buttigieg (Catherine). The script is one of those scripts that makes you think a little, makes you laugh a little and makes you cry a little – it’s kind of like the production no one thing stands out particularly, but it all goes together to make a great script.
Sam not only noted the energy on stage, but mentioned how impressed she was with the timing. I have to agree – not only was the pacing of the show well done – I was never squirming trying to mentally speed things up, nor was I straining to keep up – but the comedic timing of Savard was fabulous, I’m pretty sure he made me snort when I laughed once – which, although embarrassing for me, is a good sign for him.
The cast is nicely rounded out by David Nicholson as Robert, and Alyssa Quart as Claire, both bringing in support and contrast with the two main characters. This feels like a group that likes working together. Who knows whether or not they actually do, but it’s a good thing that it seems that way.
My only complaint about the show is that there were many blackouts – one between each scene. I’m not a fan of blackouts, but that’s just me, and, honestly, it didn’t break up the show too much.
Sam’s only complaint was that there weren’t better cookies at the snack bar thingy. Unfortunately there were only pre-packaged cookies available for intermission snacking – Sam wanted some homemade squares or cookies.
East Side Players production of Proof is a joy to watch and an excellent way to spend an evening, as you can tell, I recommend it. It’s worth making your way to the not-very-transit-friendly-venue, even if you transit close and cab it the rest of the way, it’s still a pretty cheap night of theatre.
– Proof is playing at the Papermill Theatre until March 7th, 2009
– Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm, with a Sunday matinee March 1st at 2pm
– Ticket prices are $18 general admission, and $12 for students
– Tickets are available at the door or through the box office at 416-425-0917
Photo of Dany Savard, David Nicholson, Rebecca Buttigieg by Susan McQueen