Review: Proof (QED Theatre Co-op)

David Auburn’s Proof, presented by QED Theatre Co-op, plays at the Branding Factory from December 1 to 18, 2011 in Toronto.

Proof is a play with excellent writing. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. When I heard this play was running in Toronto I was a bit unsure if the acting would be on par with the script.

My theatre companion was very excited about this play. He isn’t a theatre-goer, but he is a mathematician and loves the movie version featuring Gywneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Anthony Hopkins.

We climbed up the stairs of the factory and into a large room. The place is an artist’s haven – lacking in expensive details, but full of space for creative opportunity. The set, designed by architect Jason Pooley, was economical but interesting as there were hundreds of little cardboard squares organized to create the illusion of a house. The seats were very close to the stage, making for an intimate production.

This is a stellar, seasoned cast that knows what they are doing. All four actors held the play up with superb acting; some are Gemini and Dora Award winners. They’re professional, fresh-faced, and show great honesty in their roles. The direction and acting allowed me to completely toss aside my initial worries.

Joanne Kelly who plays Catherine, the daughter of deceased mathematician Robert, is the main character. Kelly shows her character’s constant anxiety without turning her into a caricature. She is pretty, exudes intelligence, and has great chemistry with the other actors. Her love interest, Hal, is played by Joe Dinicol, who plays “cool math geek” really well. Fun little fact: he played second male lead in the film Passchendaale.

Claire, Catherine’s sister, is played by Dani Kind. Her character could have come off as extremely uncaring, but Kind prevents her from becoming a one-dimensional character. John Evans plays Robert, the father. His portrayal makes his character feel so human to me that sometimes I even became confused and wondered if he was saying something off-script.

No wonder this play has won so many awards; I don’t think I’ve ever been so rapt in attention during a two-hour play. The dialogue and story progression is pretty much perfect. This play is very intelligent but not over-intellectualizing. I have seen the movie Proof before so I had a good idea of what to expect. Most of the dialogue in the play is similar to the movie. I liked this play way more than the movie!

My theatre partner loved it too. He said he liked the scene when Catherine talks about Germain’s prime. He was very impressed that she remembered the real number. My favourite scene was when Catherine is with her dad outside in the cold and reads from his notebook. This play touches on many topics that everyone can relate to – death, dementia, trust, and love.

I was very surprised at the great skill level of these actors, and was disappointed that there weren’t more people in the audience. QED Theatre’s production is amazing – my review is proof enough of that. Go see it!

Proof is playing at The Branding Factory (136 Geary Avenue – Unit 215A, side entrance off Salem) until December 18, 2011
– Performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 8pm
– Ticket prices are $20 ($15 Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
– Tickets are available online or at the door

Photo credit (clockwise from top left) of Joanne Kelly, John Evans, Dani Kind, Joe Dinicol; taken by Angela Besharah of Inside Light Studio

2 thoughts on “Review: Proof (QED Theatre Co-op)”

  1. interesting read

    … your descrption of the set, (“hundreds of little cardboard squares,” you write above, “organized to create the illusion of a house”) intrigues me. i can’t quite envision it though. can you offer a bit more description? (usually i wouldn’t ask, but what also draws me in to the set, is that the designer, you say, is an architect.)

    ((also, just a side note, i agree with you — the play, as a text, is a bit too strong and cynical for the melancholic tone of the film version. it felt to me more like a pitiful look at the cast of characters, rather than a story that pushes very flawed individuals that are both lovable and entirely unreasonable, at times, into conflict with one another.))

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