Proof: A Play
By David Auburn
Faber and Faver
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.
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.