by Ryan High School
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 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: http://www.shutterfly.com/pro/thespianfestival/2008
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