Fri, May 05, 2006 - Page 15 News List

A tormented genius returns to the stage

By Ho Yi  /  STAFF REPORTER

Proof has subtle insights about mathematics and life.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF GREENRAY THEATER

Math theorists are not renowned for their exciting lifestyles, or tales of derring-do, but in A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe gave the calling a little extra charisma as he walked the tightrope between genius and madness.

The romantic notion of a tormented mathematician's soul is masterfully tackled in the award-winning Proof by US playwright David Auburn, which was translated into Chinese by Green Ray Theater (綠光劇團) last year.

The production enjoyed rave reviews and caught the attention of the Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center, which invited the troupe to bring its rendition of the acclaimed play to the national stage for four performances starting tonight.

Awarded the 2001 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for drama, Proof is a family drama centered on four characters. Robert, a genius mathematician, falls apart after completing his best work in his early twenties. His daughter Catherine, also mathematically gifted, drops out of college to take care for him, and lives in the perpetual fear that she inherited her father's insanity.

After Robert's death, Catherine's elder sister Claire, returns to the family home to settle her father's affairs.

Hal, an ambitious student of Robert's, shows up in the hope of uncovering a lost great work of mathematics. Love blooms between Hal and Catherine, but when he does uncover what appears to be proof of a great mathematical conundrum and Catherine claims authorship, trust becomes an issue.

Co-director and actor Luo Bei-an (羅北安) said the power of the play lies in its honest portrayal of human relationships and emotions and its poignant take on the perennial themes of trust and betrayal. Directors Luo and Ko Yi-chen (柯一正) refrained from embellishing the script, and left the play in its original form, which presents a sober and realistic approach to the subject matter.

Luo said the play offers challenging experiences for theater performers: "A great portion of local theatrical productions are light comedies, since Taiwan audiences like that genre, and I am not saying that's bad. But to actors like us, Proof gives us a chance to return to serious drama, to do what we have been trained to do."

Indeed, it is a great pleasure to see the four veteran theater actors and teachers Luo, Lang Zu-yun (郎祖筠), Yao Kun-jun (姚坤君) and Fan Guang-yao (樊光耀) deliver absorbing performances in a realistic setting which resembles a backyard of an old suburban house that stands still as the seasons change.

A prolific playwright/director and founder of Green Ray Theater, Lou said at first the group didn't think this rather academic play had commercial appeal and were surprised by the more than warm reception their performance received. For its next stop, Green Ray's Proof will be performed at the Hong Kong Chinese-language Theater Festival next January.

"I rarely urge everybody to come see a show, but this play is really great," the jovial theater veteran said.

Performance notes:

What: Proof (求證) by Green Ray Theater (綠光劇團)
Where: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路21號)
When: Tonight at 7:30pm; tomorrow at 2:30pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 2:30pm
Tickets: NT$350 to NT$1,600, available through ERA ticketing outlets or direct from the box office at the Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center.

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