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The Dio’s “Proof” Adds Up (Review) February 21, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Theatre.
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Part mystery, part love story and part family drama, for their first foray into producing a dramatic play, The Dio has chosen to dive into the deep waters of David Auburn’s Proof, winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award. You may be familiar with the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins or you may remember it as “that play about math”, but as director, Steve DeBruyne says in his note in the program “the themes are much more universal. Themes of love, loss and a very important question: How much of a parent’s genius – or instability – does a child inherit?”

The play revolves around a young woman, Catherine (Esther Jentzen) who, on the death of her father, must sort out and deal with a number of long denied feelings and fears. Catherine’s father, Robert (Dan Morrison), was a brilliant mathematician who crossed the thin line from genius to insanity several years earlier, leaving Catherine to give up her own mathematical studies to care for him. Now she must adjust not only to his death, but come to grips with her fear that his mathematical genius, which she may have inherited, could also come with a dreadful price. Into the equation for Catherine add her father’s student, the very attractive Hal (Tristan Rewald) and her estranged sister Claire (Molly Cunningham) and the results are complex and satisfying.

For a piece this cerebral, you need someone truly dynamic to anchor your production and luckily for DeBruyne, he has found that in spades with Jentzen who is as talented as she is luminescent. She carries the play with such a natural grace and confidence that I predict you will be seeing her frequently on stages across southeastern Michigan and beyond for years to come. Rewald’s Hal is both smart and nerd sexy. Cunningham brings a nice mix of sibling rivalry and pushy older sister. While Morrison, as always, is a joy to watch and brings both humor and pathos to the declining father.

While the pacing set by director DeBruyne may have been a little contemplative and static for my taste, the talented actors held my interest and frequently had me leaning forward in my seat. The backyard set by Matt Tomich is lovely, although the swing upon which several key scenes are staged, has posts in front of it that sometimes block the view for parts of the audience. The only real complaint I have are the unnecessary protruding body mikes that are more distracting than useful, especially in the more intimate scenes.

Chef Jarod DeBruyne’s dinner this time around is an Asian Buffet and as I found out first hand they are graciously accommodating when it comes to special dietary needs – even on the fly. The menu can be found on their website in advance and it is suggested that you contact the box office with any special requests.

Proof continues at The Dio through March 16th, 177 E Main St, Pinckney, MI, 48169   517-672-6009 diotheatre.com

Thank you to guest reviewer Wendy Wright.

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