Review: Proof at the Menier Chocolate Factory
I'm not sure if it is intended as a pun or meant to be ironic but the mathematician characters of David Auburn's play Proof seem to be fixated on being 'past their prime'. Indeed I didn't know that mathematicians had a prime, that they are at there mathematical peak in their early 20s but apparently they are.
Catherine (Mariah Gale) is a maths student on a break from University having been caring for her sick, maths genius father Robert (Matthew Marsh) who has just died.
Hal (Jamie Parker) a former student of Robert's, and now a lecturer, has been going through the dead mathematicians notebooks to see if he had any late inspiration. The obsession with age and mathematical thinking is important because the central plot point of the play is the authorship of a new 'proof', a mathematical theory of great significance. A mathematical discovery, I suppose - maths and I were never great friends at school.
The proof is written in one of Robert's notebooks and appears to be in his handwriting but could he have written it during a period of lucidity and so late in his career? Catherine claims the proof as her own work, but as a student would she have the knowledge and skill to produce such ground-breaking work?
Proof is not a 'who done it' but a 'who wrote it' and the answer to that could change everything. The problem is not that it is badly done, far from it, nor that the acting is bad, because it really isn't, it is very good; the problem is that it is just enough. It is engaging enough and interesting enough but it isn't going to set my theatre world on fire. It is a good, well-made, solid play but it isn't a stand-out play.
In fact the one thing that will probably stick in my mind most (cue rolling of eyes from @pcchan1981 and @oughttobeclowns) is that Jamie Parker forgot to take his wedding ring off for his first scene. When it had disappeared in the second scene I thought perhaps it was part of the play so he could better seduce Catherine. But with no mention of a wife at any point, he'd just forgot. Whoops.
Proof is on at the Menier Chocolate Factory until April 27 and if you want to see some great acting and/or like maths then is worth a look. For another view head over to Poly's blog
Jamie Parker was in the first episode of The Hour. Now they might not have met on set as they didn't have any scenes so just in case Jamie was one of the History Boys with Sam Barnett who was in Bright Star.