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PROOF (article first published : 2003-10-2)

I first saw David Auburnís Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof at Pieter Toerienís Theatre at Montecasino in Gauteng several years back and was struck then at how skilfully the author tells his story. Alright, it deals a lot with the mysteries of mathematics which go way, way over my arithmetically-challenged head but, at its heart, itís a sophisticated, endearing and clever love story.

KickstArt has made an excellent choice in presenting this play at Kwasuka Theatre as it well suits the intimacy of the venue. After making an offbeat excursion into the world of the wild and whacky with Table Manners, Greg King again positions himself as Durbanís top drama director with his handling of Proof.

Heís chosen an excellent cast. Well-suited to the roles they portray, they create believable and accessible characters.

In her best performance to date, Olivia Borgen plays Catherine. On the eve of her birthday, she finds herself looking back over the years spent caring for her brilliant mathematician of a father (Robert). He quietly moves onto the scene and they reminisce for a while. This fairly banal rapport suddenly takes on a new and cutting dimension when the audience discovers that Robert has died and she is talking to his ghost.

Frantz Dobrowsky plays Robert with a controlled energy, allowing the occasional hint of irrational behaviour to show through. When the character is confronted with evidence of his instability, his vulnerability is sensitively portrayed.

Playing Catherineís brittle and over-protective sister (Claire), Clare Mortimer can always be relied upon to give an excellent performance. For the first time since she started working in Durban, I am happy to say that she was using more power and I was impressed by her vocal projection.

Neil Coppen is Hal, a maths student who wants to search Robertís 103 notebooks for what he believes is a discovery that could alter the course of mathematics. Neilís theatre skills are expanding steadily with each production and he and Olivia had some beautiful scenes together.

There are only two problems I have with the production. One is Neil Coppenís hairstyle - I seriously wish heíd change it! The other is the over-abundance of ivy on an otherwise attractive set. As the play moves forward and backward through a number of seasons, the flowering creeper on the verandah baffles credibility.

Greg King has a winner in Proof Ė an excellently directed and performed play by a brilliant playwright. Donít be put off by the mathematics aspect Ė see the show for its pure entertainment value as the two lovers battle their way to the final proof.

Proof runs at Kwasuka Theatre until October 25. Performances Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 with Saturday matinees at 14h30. Tickets R60 (R50 for students and pensioners) at Computicket, or from Greg on 083 544 2006. Ė Caroline Smart




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