Math + Mental Illness = Prolific Proof, Feb. 6 – 20

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Tennessee Repertory Theatre presents:
Proof (Ages 14 and older)
TPAC’s Johnson Theater
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tennesseerep.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 6:30 p.m., Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $46.50

If you’re seeking a top-notch night of spellbinding theater, then Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s current production of Proof is a best bet. Wow! This show is the essence of truly remarkable theater, and the Rep’s production of it is incredible.

Playwright David Auburn’s work is one of the most brilliant, cleverly penned scripts to surface among Broadway fare in quite a while. It is filled with a dynamic range of quick wit and serious dialogue from start to finish, and the Rep’s cast magically brings its characters to life with heartfelt passion and sheer energy.

The Rep’s artistic director, and director of this production, Rene Copeland, truly taps into the depths of her directorial finesse with this one. This production is one of the most engaging, compelling theatrical experiences I have known. It’s a powerful, multi-layered story, and the Rep’s rendition is overall a flawless one.

Rep newcomer Anna Felix succinctly captures her pugnacious character (Catherine), the youngest daughter and caretaker of her late father, a world-renowned mathematician who went nuts in his latter years. The grit in this story is the fact that Catherine inherited some of her father’s genius in the numbers world and there’s the suspicion that she is also touched in the head. Felix does a tremendous job of playing her character on all extremes. She wonderfully pulls the audience toward her, engaging an appropriate sympathy along the way to the point of being on her side even if there’s something real about her own alleged mental inconsistency. Felix’s role is the one who ultimately has to prove something monumental, and she does so quite well.

Chip Arnold plays Catherine’s deceased father to the hilt. He appears in the show’s flashback scenes and gives his character a realistic gruff sensibility. Erin Whited’s portrayal of Catherine’s uppity sister, Claire, is perfect. Whited delivers a lot of perfectly timed wit and stalwart moments on the mark. Eric D. Pasto-Crosby’s role as Hal is among the best and brightest in the show. His impeccable comedic timing helps endear his character to the audience.

The only flub in this production occurs in the last scene at the moment when Catherine opens up to share her “proof” with Hal. This is an important, intimate moment between the two characters. It would be better served with just the stage lights fading to dark instead of the obtrusive musical underscore that inhibits the audience’s emotional experience in the last moment of the final scene.

Aside from the ending glitch, this is a show you must experience. It IS a truly great example of the caliber of work for which the Rep is known.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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