Astonishing "Proof" at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa

This contemporary and multi-award-winning play, written by David Auburn, is an absolute triumph for the 6th Street Playhouse.  From the moment the audience enters through a vine-covered trellis to sit around the backyard stage setting, we are captivated.  It's an old house in Chicago:  screens on the windows need fixing, the ground is littered with dead leaves, old toys and dried-up flower pots set the mood of neglect. 

There's a young woman sitting on the steps of a back porch, weeping softly.  Dana Scott ("Catherine") is totally convincing as the 25-year old who has selflessly cared for her father, a once-brilliant math professor who has declined into delusion as the years passed.  Flashbacks display her father's pride in his loving and math-gifted daughter.  We see their joys and sorrows as he loses touch with reality, and his daughter wonders if she too will follow in mental decline.  Alan Kaplan does an outstanding job in his role as the father, blustering his way through the frustrating confusion he cannot comprehend.  We learn that he has recently passed, leaving Catherine to celebrate her birthday alone and bereft.

A grad student, appropriately played as a geek by Mark Bradbury, has come to scour the professor's old notebooks in hopes of discovering something mathematically significant, perhaps the proof to an unsolved equation.  Bradbury's gestures and body language are simply seamless, as he vacillates between awkward self-consciousness and graceful explanations of the professor's former genius.  

Enter the practical older sister, Claire, flying in from New York to arrange funeral details.  Claire has not inherited any of her father's mathematical genes, as has Catherine.  Claire merely wants to wind things up and get back to the city.   This role is played with control and sympathy by Jill Zimmerman.  In the hands of a less-skilled actor this role could have played out as a badgering nag, but Zimmerman brings subtle touches of caring and patience to give a much better depth to the role.  It works beautifully.

The small and intimate Studio Theater is played in the round - or nearly three quarters of it at any rate.  Director David Lear is to be commended for directing the four actors in such a way that no one in the audience has a blocked view, and the actors' diction is excellent even when their backs are briefly to the audience.

The play contains much laughter and sweet poignancy; an entertaining evening to be sure.  Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8 PM and 2 PM on Sundays through February 26th.  A special 2 PM performance will be Saturday February 25th.  Tickets are $10 to $25.  Phone (707) 523-4185 or go to