David Auburn‘s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play Proof centre’s around a mathematician, his two daughters, a former student and a mathematical ‘proof’ discovered after the mathematicians death. Rather than delve deeply into sexual inequality in academia or our fears and ignorance around mental disabilities and depression,  the play touches each lightly but remains firmly driven by themes of familial and relationship of trust.

Proof by Michael Snow DSC_4338The first offering by Freefall Productions is impressive. Jeremy Allen‘s set, the back porch and yard of Robert’s house is impressive. We are grounded in the reality of the play immediately.

Director Derek Walker has given us a very finely tuned production. There were a couple of line stumbles on opening night but they will have settled by now and in no way undermined the performances. Walker and the actors have focused on the humanity of this play and the relationships between the characters and the text that has often been described as a little dense, flowed effortlessly.

Proof by Michael Snow DSC_2542Julia Christensen balanced the conflicting character traits of Claire well. A sister who has financially and emotionally supported her younger sibling, now concerned about her mental stability. Alex Brown gave us a lovely portrait of an academically obsessed student. Neatly juggling the desire to gain a scholastic jump on his peers and his desire for Catherine, he  allows the audience the breathing room to be uncertain as to the stronger motivation. Peter Flett gave a lovely portrait of a father doting on his daughter while struggling with the fear and panic of a recent near death experience and a potential future of mental disintegration. Flett’s final scene was electric.

Proof by Michael Snow DSC_4757The play in the end comes down to the role of Catherine. It is this character that holds the play together. Fortunately it is in good hands. Ylaria Rogers delicately balances the love for her father and the fear that she may follow in his footsteps. She has a lovely vulnerability as romance blossoms and she navigates delicately around the slippery slope of a character feeling too sorry for themselves when heart-crushed by both Claire and Hal. Rogers performance is subtle, tender and nuanced.

Overall Caitlin Hodder’s costumes worked well although my companion (who has more Proof by Michael Snow DSC_1933experience in this field than I) felt Claire’s outfits did not quite ring true.

For me the only thing that lets this production down was the sound and lighting. Inexplicably the scene changes are filled with heavy garish music and flashing lights as if we had entered an obscure night club. This clashed badly with the subtle script and performances.

Overall this is a superb start for this new company. I am sure we will see a lot more from them in the future. It only has a short run so put a spot in your diary and support a new voice in Sydney’s artistic scene.

New Theatre, Newtown til 30th July

Lynden Jones – Talking Arts