Supporting cast Carmen Argenziano, Nicole Stuart, producer Caitlin Renee Campbell and director John Hindman create an inspiring rendition of a modern classic.
The story begins as we look back at young Catherine’s childhood. Happy pictures of good times displayed as a larger than life slideshow. But the fun ends as we meet present-day Catherine (Tessa Ferrer), lethargic and on a bender, strewn over the living room couch.
Soon enough her there-but-not-there father Robert (Carmen Argenziano) is introduced as the famed mathematician whose best days are long behind him. Together they struggle not just with day-to-day mental balance, but the overwhelming need for direction. However, not lacking direction is Robert’s student Hal (Matt Marquez) who needs them both, but only doesn’t yet realize to what extent. When Robert’s other daughter and Catherine’s sister Claire arrives, we realize a more hardened look at this family’s situation. To be sure, it won’t end with anyone happy. But like any complex mathematical exercise, it hopes to end with a logical solution.
Upon introduction Tessa Ferrer’s face seems familiar. While evoking a troubled sense, her eyes still bring a sparkle that comfortably reminds us if this character can in fact save herself from the demons, then yes, her survival is worth our wait.
Ferrer’s first scene with father Argenziano establishes the relationship nicely, but comes across false. Dealing with one if not two mentally unbalanced personalities is usually messier and crankier; Argenziano doesn’t take it to those depths. He rarely reaches towards the edges, but stays as a soft, sometimes wise-cracking paternal figure. More would’ve been nice.
Matt Marquez has the feel of a young Patrick Dempsey and brings a refreshing energy to the storyline as student Hal. Nerdy, awkward, yet effortlessly charming. As Marquez and Ferrer begin feeling around towards a relationship of some level, you aren’t just rooting for them. With this woman in pain; and he seems to be the only elixir with one foot into the number language she understands and the other foot in a stable world she longs for.
Nicole Stuart does a fine job with Clair. She emphasizes the adult world, and allows for the needed comic relief the morning after a mathematical all-nighter.
The Open Fist Theater has a history of being a hidden gem. A range of storytelling, often with strong production value and skilled cast. Producer Caitlan Renee Campbell, Artistic Director Martha Demson are among those at the top of the list whom deserve credit for their tireless work and vision.
The brilliance of this production’s Proof lands on story and cast. Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn has won global recognition several times over for his pen-to-paper efforts. The nuanced characters, inspired arcs and room for self-discovery continue to beckon words such as “classic” and “masterpiece”.
The challenge then might be to find a cast willing to take on this heroic journey. This point’s to Open Fist’s partnership with casting giants Aquila/Morong. The magic of Ferrer and Marquez are worthy opponents. Ferrer is willing to take on insanity and pull us through to safety. Marquez gives us a reason to believe, grounding us in reality when the going gets tough.
Director John Hindman plays his cards gently, allowing his performers to carry their own weight, a particularly smart move for this heavy piece. Action occurs both traditionally on the wooded stage, as well off on the stage’s perimeter which I enjoyed but heard negativity from others in the crowd.
For those who often comment poorly on Los Angeles theater, this is a show to see. Aspiring actors can witness the next steps of their career, writers (who should already be very familiar) should see this live, with this particular cast.
Run: Tuesday, 2/15/11 – Thursday, 3/10/11
Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday at 8pm.
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The Open Fist Theatre
6209 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038