Review: ‘Proof’ now on the Driftwood Players’ stage

4 Proof _Driftwood Production

“Proof” by Pulitzer Prize winner, David Auburn
Directed by Rick Wright
Produced by Diane Jamieson

Sunday Matinees Jan. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 21-23 at 8 p.m.

Playwright David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Proof” runs through this week at the Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St.

Driftwood Players’ production of this sophisticated plot line weighing loyalty, fear and emotional unknowns is guided skillfully by director Rick Wright.

“Proof” is a product of TIPS (Driftwood’s Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities) produced by Diane Jamieson, a veteran of Driftwood Players productions. In her bio, Dr. Jamieson, a licensed clinical psychologist, explains that she feels that theatre – as a personal outlet for her — “is a wonderful complement to working with people in psychotherapy, insofar as both involve understanding how humans behave and think.”

“Proof” must certainly fit the bill for Jamieson, as the play is a complex study in behavior and thought process.

Under Wright’s direction, the dialogue is delivered in Mamet-staccato that is meant to miss its mark as the four characters misinterpret each others’ motives and intentions. These misunderstandings become a fascinating curiosity as the vehicle that drives the mystery of the play forward.

A profound theatrical work, “Proof” offers up examinations of arguments versus evidence; truths versus misjudgments and claim versus counter-claim.

Justine Scott, playing the role of Catherine, skillfully spars throughout Auburn’s play with her less-intellectually gifted sister Claire (for which Jennifer Makenas brings in a strong performance).

A brilliant achiever in her own right, Claire (whose career is in currency markets) is able to influence the life of her mathematician father and sister using her advanced social skills, bulldozing in a most pleasant manner – but bulldozing nonetheless.

Wright’s contrast-casting of Scott against Makenas is a smart move – sibling rivalry at its best. We see Claire’s veiled smirks as she patronizes Catherine. But in a flash point moment, Catherine turns the tables and reveals familial abandonment when she, the favored daughter, was left to deal with the decline of their father’s mental stability.

Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff. Photo courtesy the actor’s Facebook page.

Eric Bischoff is cast as Robert, the father whose once brilliant career unravels in flashback scenes that are both poignant and effective. It takes a strong presence to hold together the disjointed miss-its-mark dialogue that is meant to create familial misunderstandings that Auburn built into the script; and Bischoff’s performance and range is riveting. He portrays an intellectual who understands he is losing his intellect with its resultant angry outbursts, moments of defeat, flashbacks to hopeful moments with sharp intensity.

None of this would be complete without Hal, the grad student, self-admitted geek and academic devotee of Robert. The role is played by Jordan Fermstad, whose performance skills were made evident in “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “Boeing Boeing”.

Hal and Catherine are love-matched as nerds-at-romance. As he is both a mathematician and musician, one wonders if his faltering speech pattern and social insecurity aren’t the result of Asperger’s. No doubt he is brilliant, and understands mathematical proofs at near Nobel Prize levels; but can’t navigate the social landscape of attraction without patient guides – which first Claire (on behalf of her sister) and then Catherine provide.

“Proof” supplies Driftwood Players fans with a psychological drama – it’s heady stuff! The sophisticated plot line weighs loyalty, fear and emotional unknowns, skillfully guided by director Wright.

Artfully Edmonds kudos go out to Eric Bischoff, who is the cohesive element in an intricately-written prize-winning play.

Get your tickets at the Driftwood Players online box office.

— By Emily Hill


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