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Proof: A Play

A book by David Auburn

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Proof the play is proof what flawless drama should be.

  • May 11, 2013
  • by
Rating:
+5
To use hyperbole to express onto readers the profundity and intelligence or 'mother wit' of this play would not do it a hint of justice, but rather, it would be another run-of-the-mill complementary liturgy. It won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And that alone speaks volumes.

Using an atmosphere or background in which mathematics is prevalent - but not entirely so in respects to clearly jotted out theorems and formulas (for everything that is math oriented in this drama is rather undefined and ambigous) - the play's theme(s) gyrate around one central character: twenty-five-year-old Catherine, her dad's care provider and an unknown math genius and three strong supporting characters, sometimes very aseptic and in other turns quite audacious: Robert, the Dad, a former math professor/academic math celebrity, in his fifties, Hal, twenty-five, a semi-carefree educator and graduate student under Robert and lastly, Claire, twenty-nine, a nagging sister to Catherine and daughter of Robert.

When one thinks of super bookishly or scholastically (research-wise, that is) gifted individuals, it is normally believed that folks of this nature tend to lean towards the sidelines - to a realm of reflective alienation and unavoidable, suffocating derangement: madness through and through. This is a commonly held perception that is strongly associated to those rare math demigods/goddesses. They are deemed (but not always) as shy, introverted, awkward, asexual social oddities who are mentally a tad off kilter in the world of beer slurping, vulgar/inelegant party celebrants. However, the Hal character in the play mitigates that academic myth....

Proof, in essence, is almost written like a mathematical illustration or equation. The play - scene by scene - is broken up like a puzzle; it flutters backward and forward. And you have to go back, like in a math problem, in order to solve it.

Whatever Proof is, there is no denying that it is a startling, shotgunning drama that is worthy of vast readership. That alone is the highest complement one can pay to an author.

Proof the play is proof what flawless drama should be.

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More Proof: A Play reviews
review by . January 24, 2008
This play captures the essence of mathematicians and some of the ways they do mathematics. Catherine is the daughter of her mathematician father Robert, who was brilliant and revolutionary in his early twenties, but has descended into madness. For the last few years Catherine has suppressed her desire to study mathematics at Northwestern University in order to care for her father. Robert has just died and Hal, one of his Ph. D. students, comes to the house to examine the notebooks Robert had filled …
review by . November 24, 2004
This is a wonderful, well-thought out play. The cast consists of only four characters and the plot moves back and forth in time from the present to the past and from dreams to reality. Catherine's father, Robert (who seems loosely based on the real-life John Nash) was one of the most brilliant mathematicians to have ever lived. By the time he was 25 he had changed the mathematics world twice. Then he became mentally sick and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Catherine drops out of school to take …
review by . May 29, 2001
To use hyperbole to express onto readers the profundity and intelligence or 'mother wit' of this play would not do it a hint of justice, but rather, it would be another run-of-the-mill complementary liturgy. It won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And that alone speaks volumes.Using an atmosphere or background in which mathematics is prevalent - but not entirely so in respects to clearly jotted out theorems and formulas (for everything that is math oriented in this drama is rather undefined and …
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Christian Engler ()
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Adult/High School-Twenty-five-year-old Catherine, who sacrificed college to care for her mentally ill father (once a brilliant, much-admired mathematician), is left in a kind of limbo after his death. Socially awkward and a bit of a shut-in, she is gruff with Hal, a former student who shows up even before the funeral wanting to root through the countless notebooks her father kept in the years of his decline, hoping to find mathematical gold. On the heels of his arrival comes Claire, Catherine's cosmopolitan, blandly successful, and pushy sister, with plans to sell their father's house and take Catherine (whom she's convinced has inherited a touch of their father's illness) with her back to New York. Catherine does not want to leave, and things become more complicated as she and Hal tentatively begin to develop a relationship. She gives him the key to a drawer in her father's desk, where the "gold" waits-in the form of a notebook filled with the most original and astonishing mathematical proof Hal has seen in years. Thrilled, he wants to take immediate steps to have the proof published in her father's name, until Catherine shocks both him and Claire by declaring that she is its author. Hal's harsh incredulity pushes Catherine into an indifferent funk, sorely disappointed by the insult of having to prove her honesty to a friend she had trusted. There is much to appeal to YAs in this Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, which crackles with subtle wit while tackling large...
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ISBN-10: 0571199976
ISBN-13: 978-0571199976
Author: David Auburn
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Faber & Faber
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