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HOLMDEL, NJ—With many area theaters winding down their seasons, the Holmdel Theater Company, some twenty miles south of New Brunswick, is just starting theirs.
Confirming there is excellent theater in the Garden State year round, the somewhat countrified venue’s season kicks off with David Auburn’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning “Proof.”
The drama’s first public performance was at New Jersey’s own George Street Playhouse’s 1999 Next Stage New Play Festival.
Since then, with its multitudes of amateur and professional productions, Proof could easily lay claim to being the first great American stage drama of the 21st century.
Leading this ideal cast was the skilled Amanda Deltuvia as Catherine, a young woman who, in addition to inheriting her father’s genius for mathematics, may have also inherited his mental illness.
Deltuvia gave her audience the gift of an impatient, irritated young woman, who after years of taking care of her mentally ill father is content to isolate herself from the world.
One of the more interesting things about Eric Roland’s portrayal of Robert Catherine’s genius and very ill father. This Robert was very professorial.
In past productions this reviewer has seen, Robert was portrayed as a larger than life patriarch. Mister Roland’s subtle performance took the play in another direction and added additional layers of depth.
John Bergeron was Hal, Robert’s former student who sees Catherine’s genius and senses her need to connect to a person she can trust.
Bergeron’s gentle and somewhat timid Hal, was quite unique from other stagings and well done. In addition, it added more uniqueness to this already fine production.
Claire was played by Colleen Clinton who provided a strong performance as the fed up and controlling Claire, who secretly resents Catherine for her genius and her closer relationship to their father.
Director Kathy Hendrickson deserves a nod for bringing needed freshness to a play that has been done and done again and has lots of past performance ghosts.
Some issues may arisen due to the venue itself. At times, it could be a bit difficult to hear some of the dialogue. Other times, Claire had her back to much of the audience and the dynamic between her and Catherine suffered.
Due to Bergeron’s subtle resemblance to actor Johnny Galecki, heavy tortoise shell glasses may not have been the best of choices. They kept invoking images of The Big Bang Theory’s Dr. Leonard Hofstadter.
Ultimately, Proof, with its “get to the point” dialogue, simple staging, and character-driven theme is well worth the 20-mile drive to Holmdel.