by Ryan High School

Brandon Hines and Hannah Black. Photos by Roger Bruhn Photography. A drama about a mathematical proof? David Auburn’s play proved it could be done, earning a Tony and a Pulitzer for his efforts. And Ryan High School from Denton, Texas proved this intimate drama could be taken to the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska and still work in the cavernous Lied Center.

The story centers around Catherine, a woman in her mid-twenties on the eve of her birthday, awaiting the arrival of her sister while chatting with her father, Robert. Robert is a brilliant mathematician who in his youth created proofs that are still looked upon with awe by the mathematics community and his students at the college in Chicago. But he also is known for his descent into madness. A madness that lasted for years while Catherine took care of him. A madness that lifted for one hopeful year before gripping his mind yet again. A madness that had him writing furiously in thousands of notebooks, looking for proofs in gibberish. A madness that eventually destroyed his life, leaving Catherine fearful that she too might be going insane as she talks to a father who is no longer there, while she awaits her sister coming home not for Catherine’s birthday, but for a funeral.

Jeannene Abney directs Ryan High’s dramatic production that includes a couple of great leads. Hannah Black is Catherine, and her performance is dead on – a young woman tired from her difficult years of caring for her father, both mentally and physically. And she’s irritated by her sister Claire from New York, with Meghan Forest giving a good turn as the head-on-her-shoulders, thoroughly organized professional who is everything Catherine isn’t. And in the midst of being tired and irritated, sad and relieved, she’s also hesitantly falling in love with her father’s young protégé Hal who is going through all the notebooks looking to see if Robert created anything new in his last years.

Kelsey Clay and Hannah Black. Photos by Roger Bruhn Photography.Kelsey Clay is terrific as Hal, the student with an awkward crush on his former professor’s daughter, accompanied by a determined eagerness to find one more brilliant thing written by the man he idolized. Kelsey and Hannah work well together, from their initial awkwardness to their growing attraction to the tension between them as events come to a head. Also impressive is the flashback scene to when they first met – how different Catherine is portrayed when she is fresh and happy with her father apparently cured, and the relationship between Catherine and Hal that is transformed into the two people who are just meeting for the first time. Perfectly done.

And lastly, Brandon Hines plays Robert who works with his stage daughter in capturing the most powerful scene in the play. An apparently lucid Robert excited that his mental machinery is working again, proudly giving the start of his new proof to his daughter and insisting that they go through it together and work out any bugs like they used to. A devastated Catherine begins to read the proof aloud.

Performed June 27, 2008.

Photos by Roger Bruhn Photography:

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Catherine: Hannah Black
Hal: Kelsey Clay
Claire: Meghan Forest
Robert: Brandon Hines

Director: Jeannene Abney
Technical Director: Scott Thompson
Sound Design: Jonathon Bryant
Stage Manager: Joey Gallagher


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