PHOTO: Megan Raitano and Allan Whitehead play daughter and father in Theater on the Edge's production of "Proof." (Monica Mulder/courtesy photo)
"DiGeorge gets polished performances out of all his actors, who make these people — all of whom have something to prove — feel real." - by Matt Palm
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Actors, not soundtrack, put the emotion in 'Proof'
By Matt Palm
David Auburn’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play “Proof” is about a lot of things: Fear of mental illness, standing in a parent’s shadow, even budding romance. But a new production at Theater on the Edge, in Edgewood just south of Orlando, brings another issue to the fore.
As directed by Marco DiGeorge, this “Proof” demonstrates the enormous toll of caring for an ill parent. And it’s from this angle that the production is most successful.
As Catherine, the young woman at the center of the play, Megan Raitano is a wreck of a human. If she’s not sleeping all day, she’s snapping at everyone around her. Raitano gives a fearless performance — Catherine is not altogether likable. But she is completely believable. This is a woman at the end of her rope — and the rope is quickly fraying.
Catherine has spent the last several years rattling around her childhood Chicago home and tending to her father, Robert. Once a brilliant mathematician, his mind — “the machinery,” he calls it — has broken down.
Auburn laces his dialogue with heartbreaking details: Robert obsessing over messages from aliens he saw in the Dewey Decimal codes on his library books, Catherine pretending to be the imaginary people with whom her father would converse.
The play opens shortly after Robert’s death, and Catherine — who inherited her father’s mathematical mind — is worried she will also inherit his illness.
DiGeorge gets polished performances out of all his actors, who make these people — all of whom have something to prove — feel real.
But the production tries too hard with musical cues from the likes of Sixpence None the Richer or Evanescence. The songs actually work against the production’s verisimilitude, calling to mind slick MTV videos rather than heartfelt emotion.
Better to focus on the strong acting. As Catherine’s well-meaning but overbearing sister, Elaitheia Quinn shows flashes of a guilty conscience. Barry Wright appealingly puts awkward physical movements and vocal tremors to good use as a young mathematician.
Allan Whitehead doesn’t overplay Robert’s illness while showing where Catherine’s irascibility comes from.
Auburn’s pat ending doesn’t ring entirely true — but these actors will make you believe it.
What: Theater on the Edge production of David Auburn’s drama
Length: 2:30, including intermission
Where: Theater on the Edge, 5542 Hansel Ave., Edgewood
When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except March 16); 2 p.m. Sundays and March 31; through March 31