Review: Proof (A Play)

Proof Cover

Proof: A Play
By David Auburn
Faber and Faver
March 2001

The Short of It:

A past-paced, gripping play about young woman struggling with the recent loss of her father, the arrival of her uptight sister, and her own self-doubt over whether or not she’s sane.

The Rest of It:

Proof, a play by David Auburn is about a young woman named Catherine, who finds her sanity questionable after caring for, and losing her father to mental illness and heart failure.  After spending the last few years frustrated and concerned over her father’s wellbeing and internalizing those feelings, she is suddenly thrust into society and forced to look at herself. We are invited into her world to feel as she does, vulnerable, fragile and completely unsure of herself.

If the storyline sounds familiar to you, you might be remembering the movie which came out in 2005 and starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anthony Hopkins. As far as adaptations go, the movie was actually pretty good.

Proof The Movie

I read the play for my Contemporary Lit class and I loved it. It’s filled with conflict and doubt and then there are the conversations that revolve around mathematics (might as well be a different language to me) but they were necessary and powerful in conveying the absolute brilliance of both father and daughter. The main question here is whether or not Catherine has inherited her father’s mental illness as well. Auburn does an excellent job of  keeping the reader guessing. It’s a quick read, only 96pp but as soon as I finished it I went right back and read it again.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a play but it was refreshing and broke up my reading rut. Reading it reminded me of all the drama classes I took in college. So much is left up to your interpretation and I sort of like being challenged that way.

After reading it, I saw the movie and it was really very good. The whole experience was a win-win.

Have you ever read a play? If not, I encourage you to pick one up. Reading one is entirely different than reading a book but it’s an enjoyable experience.

Source: Purchased

9 thoughts on “Review: Proof (A Play)”

  1. I agree, the movie was very good, and I’m not much of a Gwyneth Paltrow fan. I haven’t read Proof, but I’ve read some plays (though only for school)–can think of these: The Importance of Being Earnest, Inherit the Wind, Endgame… Have a great reading week 😀

  2. I really liked this one too. I read it, watched the movie and then saw the play live, all of which were great.

    I’ve been on a play reading kick this year and it’s been an interesting reading experience. Plays are written in such a different way from other books, it makes you think about things in a different way. Which is wonderful.

    1. I agree. It’s as if reading it worked out a different part of my brain. You are so lucky to have seen it live. I love live theatre.

  3. I read Proof in high school. I remember liking it (it was probably one of the first non-Shakespeare plays I read).

    Then we went to see a production of the play that was going on in Toronto at the time and it really brought the reading experience to life. I haven’t seen the movie, because I worry it will taint my experience with the play!

    1. That’s how I felt about seeing the movie. I was worried it would affect my response to the play but it enhanced it quite a bit and I realized that I read it pretty close to how they acted it out. The whole debate over mental illness and how it gets passed from one generation to the next is such an interesting topic but seeing it in a play…really mademe think.There was just so much to think about in those 90+ pages.

  4. I was thinking that it sounded familiar … yet I haven’t seen the movie. I don’t read plays very often so it would be a different reading experience for me.

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