Proof Review 2002
”Poof”, already lauded by critics for its Broadway production, now makes its British premiere at the 250-seat Donmar Warehouse. It also reunites Gwyneth Paltrow with director John Madden after the success of the Oscar winning film “Shakespeare in Love”.
I was really looking forward to seeing this play and hoped it would live up to expectation. So did it? The answer is a resounding yes. It is a compelling drama dealing with complex issues and emotions and is performed by an outstanding cast with Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow particularly terrific. And it is Paltrow’s appearance that has people queuing every night for returns as this play is completely sold out for its limited 4 week run.
The story concerns Catherine, a 25-year-old woman who has sacrificed her education and social life to care for her sick father, who is a mathematical genius, during the worst of his mental degeneration. The play flicks from her relationship with her father to the time shortly after his death where she is struggling to come to terms with her loss along with determining how much of her father’s genius or madness she will inherit.
Gwyneth Paltrow is perfect for the part of Catherine. She plays her character in a vulnerable child-like manner and is utterly convincing with excellent timing and delivery. I hope she will make many more West End appearances as she is a natural. Richard Coyle, who has recently finished playing in “The York Realist” for the Royal Court, has again produced a sound performance playing Hal, a former student of Catherine’s father, who wishes to go through the genius’ hand-written notebooks for any mathematical finds, but also finds himself attracted to Catherine. Ronald Pickup as Robert, the father, also produces a competent performance and Sara Stewart is excellent as Catherine’s older sister Claire, who feels guilty for leaving Catherine to care for their father alone and now tries to amend by offering to care for her.
David Auburn’s emotional and captivating drama, lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes, is a beautifully written play performed by a superb cast.
What other critics had to say.....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Staid production is reinforced by Sara Stewart's sugar-coated malevolence as Claire. But it's Paltrow who makes the night beautiful." BENEDICT NIGTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "A perfectly serviceable performance from Gwyneth Paltrow". He goes on to say, "Proof strikes me as a glib exercise in political correctness, as lacking in depth as in mystery." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "[Gwyneth Paltrow] As Catherine, this luminously beautiful actress is intelligent, bewitching, troubled, and often deeply touching." He goes on to say, "Proof is powerfully affecting." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Whatever its flaws, [David]Auburn has created a great part, which Paltrow fills to overflowing." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Paltrow makes an arresting impression." He goes on to say, "Proof is nonetheless just hokum-on-stilts. Less than the sum of its derivative parts, it is Broadway's mistaken idea of a truly penetrating play." MICHAEL COVENEY for THE DAILY MAIL says,"Gwyneth Paltrow came through with flying colours" He goes on to say, "Riveting play about maths and madness in sandals, windcheaters and dungarees."
Production photo provided by EPO