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Proof at the Masquers

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By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 07 April 2005

David Coury, as Robert (Dad), is lithe, trim and fit. His performance is filled with a delicate attention to detail. He convincingly dribbles into madness, has outbursts of anger and passion, and yet, in spite of this excellent performance, Robert is not the most fascinating character of the show. Why? Because “Dad” is over 30.

Is that bad, being over 30? I hadn’t thought so, before now, but you know, I’d forgotten what it was like being twenty-odd: newly adult with an unknown future, filled with conviction and, oh, so much melodrama.

And yet, that wasn’t the part, I’d forgotten. Strength and vitality are just words and don’t convey the power of those days. Back then we were physically invincible, effortlessly beautiful, where a mere rippling muscle would send shivers of anticipation into most others, where sexual tension underscored every move, even our own self-absorptive anxiety.

Almost all written descriptions of passion fall far short of the reality, so let me just say this: go and see this play. We, the audience, have an experience that the actors cannot: we are no longer in our first youth. At the end of the play I could see it in their eyes, their lack of comprehension, and yet when I looked at John McMullen, the Director, I knew that he knew that this was so: they had just taken me on a journey revisiting the wonder of those days. It is either a byproduct or the point of the whole production. And worth every single moment.

The plot in Proof, written by David Auburn, has gaps where people do things for unexplained reasons but, by and large, it has a storytelling feel to it. And, of course, whether the good guys win in the end, doesn’t matter either.

Lily Cedar-Kraft could win most beauty pageants, though her character as Claire, the New York daughter, is not intended to win much sympathy. Claire’s loveliness is brittle, fascinating and entirely predictable. Her character feels sadly familiar (just like someone I know?).

Before the play began, Georg Herzog (who plays Hal), was just another guy in the room. But, oh my, put that man on the stage and his metamorphosis into a dramatic thundering presence is quite breathtaking. Hal successfully becomes younger in the flash-back scene, proving that he can act, though he engages in (but doesn’t actually need) several Arnold-isms. They don’t detract from his performance, merely underscore his youth.

Catherine (played by Carolyn Zola) is a dark horse, perhaps in reality as well as the play. Catherine starts as a bumbling ugly-duckling younger sister given to excesses of alcohol and temper, as we observe her from our position in the audience. By the time that she molts (in the vicinity of the black dress), we are tantalized into becoming immersed in the melodrama of her character, a moving transformation indeed.

Wonderfully entertaining; aah, those were the days!