Backyard Renaissance Closes Season with PROOF

A Play About Math, Brilliance, and Family Dynamics 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Liliana Talwatte, Francis Gercke, and William Huffaker. Photo by Daren Scott

"Proof" by David Auburn, directed by Anthony Methvin, goes into the complexities of family relationships, mental health, and the pursuit of intellectual brilliance. The plot revolves around Catherine (Liliana Talwatte), a young woman grappling with her father's legacy as a brilliant mathematician. Robert (Francis Gercke), was a mathematical genius whose brilliance was overshadowed by mental illness. As Catherine navigates the aftermath of her father's death, she is confronted by her estranged older sister, Claire (Wendy Maples), and Hal (William Huffaker), a former student of Robert's who seeks to unlock the secrets hidden within Robert's notebooks.

The play explores themes of intellectual inheritance, the burden of proof, and the fine line between genius and madness. Auburn's script ventures into the realms of mathematics and the fragility of the human mind, weaving together a story that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant. It also touches upon family dynamics when there is an illness involved and when there is a death, how behaviors can become aggressive and even unexpected. The impact that mental illness can have on a person's life and the toll it takes on their loved ones. 

Liliana Talwatte and Wendy Maples. Photo by Daren Scott 
Francis Gercke delivers a captivating portrayal of Robert, with a delicate balance between radiance and vulnerability. Liliana Talwatte as Catherine shows the character's internal struggles allowing the audience to empathize with her emotional turmoil. Wendy Maples, in the role of Claire, delivers a commendable performance that adds a touch of levity -and comedy- to the play. Her portrayal brings forth the complexities of sibling dynamics and the never-ending, adulting tension between pragmatism and idealism. William Huffaker as Hal brings a sense of youthful curiosity capturing the character's passion for mathematics and his desire to uncover the truth within Robert's notebooks. This role can be taken as sort of a nerdish bro, once he reacts to the proof Catherine claims to have written and here is where I had a record-scratch moment...Anthony Methvin's direction allows the story to unfold, highlighting the nuances of the character's relationships and the underlying tension within the narrative. His keen eye for detail is evident in the seamless integration of the set design by Yi-Chien Lee and the lighting by Curtis Mueller, creating an evocative atmosphere where audiences see a porch with the back door to the house that shifts and comes to life. However, I did feel the production as a whole was a tad short of fully realizing its potential and could leave the audience craving a deeper exploration of the piece's central ideas.

The marvel of the arts is that everyone is different, so go check it out for yourself and support local theatre.

Playing until December 9th, for performance times and more information click HERE

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