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80901

 

 

 

 

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Star Bar History: Proof, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play is 'Proof' Star Bar does good work   
Season closes on a strong note
The Gazette, June, 2003

Proof is a touching but humorous portrayal of an unusual but believable family.  An excellent cast and strong, relationship-based direction by Bonnie Ross bring it vividly to life in the Star Bar Players' new production.  

David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play begins the night before the funeral of Robert, a world-famous Chicago mathematician who died after years of fighting mental illness.  On the back step, his daughter Cathy, who inherited some of his genius, worries that she's inherited some of his instability as well.  Upstairs, his student Hal goes through the 103 notebooks Robert filled with gibberish during his last years, looking for some sign of lucidity.  In this emotional, elegantly written play, the "proof" of the title plays out on different levels, ranging from mathematics to trust.  

Cathy is a colossal role that requires everything an actress has, and Mary Maxine Fortner responds with an assured, kaleidosopic portrayal.  This Cathy is equal parts confidence, a longing to open up, a fear of being hurt, and sarcastic defensiveness.  You can see feelings flit across her face in this emotionally nimble performance.  

As Claire, who comes to attend the funeral and take care of the estate, Amy Brooks gives her subtlest and strongest performance yet.  It's easy to turn the domineering Claire into the play's bad guy, but Brooks keeps her basically sympathetic.  This Claire is a big sister who's done what she could to help in a difficult situation, who sees herself as more competent than Cathy to deal with the world (she probably is) and who probably feels a little competitive with her smarter sibling.  So she projects her power where she can:  When Cathy asks for her coffee black, for instance, Claire says, "have some milk."  

The men are nearly as good.  Scott Davis gives Hal a disarming earnestness.  He's aware that he possesses only limited gifts in a difficult field -- "Once you hit 50, it's all over," he says; "You might as well teach high school." -- and he's desperate for a chance to be associated with greatness.  

*As Robert, John Barber has only one scene -- a flashback to a brief remission -- in which to establish what sort of man he'd been, and Barber makes the most of this gentle, nostalgic look at students returning to school in the fall.  This will be Barber's last performance in Colorado Springs:  His job is taking him to Las Vegas soon.  (Too many of the good ones get away.)  

Proof is also a strong close for Star Bar Players' best season in years.  The group, as always, lives on the edge of peril -- it doesn't help that the City Auditorium has a penchant for canceling agreed-upon show dates in favor of more lucrative fare -- but it's hard not to feel optimistic about a company that's doing such good work.

-- Mark Arnest

*Director's note: actually he had three scenes.