New Jersey Theater: “Proof” at Holmdel Theatre Company

Jon Ciccarelli

The old expression “A chip off the old block” is something that we both rail against and take comfort in. We love our parents because they raised us and made us who we are but at the same time we hate to think that we’ll be just like them. The idea of how much we can be like our parents becomes all the more disturbing and personal when they go through a medical episode, especially a terminal one. While we care for them and see to their needs, we can’t help to stop and think, could this also happen to me? The tug of war between love and caring for an ailing parent and the toll it takes on adult children is tackled in a new production of David Auburn’s funny and touching play, “Proof” now running at the Holmdel Theatre Company from April 17-25.

(The brilliant but lost Robert (Eric Rolland) and his concerned daughter Catherine (Amanda Deltuvia) in “Proof”. Photo by Daniel Buckley. Courtesy of Holmdel Theatre Company

(The brilliant but lost Robert (Eric Rolland) and his concerned daughter Catherine (Amanda Deltuvia) in “Proof”. Photo by Daniel Buckley. Courtesy of Holmdel Theatre Company

Robert is a brilliant and recognized mathematician with a cozy house and professorship in Chicago and has two equally brilliant daughters Claire, the career driven executive who left home early and Catherine, the mathematically inclined match to her dad. As Catherine is ready to move on to college and Claire with her life in New York, Robert begins to have issues with his memory. Soon what beings as simple forgetfulness turns into a full blown dementia as Catherine puts her life on hold to deal with her ailing father. 

Robert ultimately passes away and brings the two estranged sisters back together to deal with the aftermath. However, in the disposing of his estate, Hal, a former student of Robert's finds a notebook containing an eloquent mathempatical proof. Hal believes that Robert had a brief moment of clarity and produced his last great work however, it not what it seems. Catherine claims credit but doesn’t want to share it with the scientific world. Having shut herself off from the world fearing that she herself may suffer the same fate as her dad, Catherine wants nothing to do with it and has to be coaxed back with Hal’s and her sister’s help.

“Proof” was the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning play and has been produced ever since. The show explores a heavy subject matter of mental decline and its effects on family but through a humorous and human way. “Laurie and I decided on this together, but thought that the size and make up of the cast fit in with the company's mission: younger "emerging" actors working side by side with professional actors.  This education and training are key to Holmdel's mission.

Also, this play is so attractive for an intimate space like the barn and it is very well written,” said Kathy Hendrickson on the show’s appeal.

Since the show was first written only a decade ago a lot has changed of the popular perception of exceptionally smart people and struggles that they go through with films like “Theory of Everything” and shows like “Big Bang Theory”. However, “Proof” offers a unique take on this demographic as it deals with an exceptionally talented woman not only coming to terms with personal trauma and her own demons but being a woman in a predominantly male profession.

“The big difference with Catherine is not only that she is an exceptional intellect, but that she is a woman, and is not believed, predominately because she is a woman, and has a possible genetic pre-disposition to mental illness, we worked on those two areas quite a bit in rehearsal.  We also focused a great deal on the mathmatical patterns in thought, patterns of argument, or in conversation,” said Hendrickson.

When asked about some of her favorite moments, Hendrickson added, “As a director I have to be a good mother of the play, and cannot choose favorites.  I have to say, I love the balance of the show, the ebbs and flows.  If I have to choose...I do love the gentle moments between Hal and Catherine in Act I, the amazing strength of the sisters: Claire and Catherine throughout the play, especially at the end of Act II and banter between the beautiful like-minds of Robert and Catherine and the beginning of Act II.”

“It is very much a story we can all relate to.  We have all dealt with mental illness, sibling rivalry, death of parents, trust and betrayal.  Come, and just listen, we need you, after all we do this for you,” she added.

(Catherine (Amanda Deltuvia) and Hal (John Bergeron) in “Proof”. Photo by Daniel Buckley. Courtesy of Holmdel Theatre Company

(Catherine (Amanda Deltuvia) and Hal (John Bergeron) in “Proof”. Photo by Daniel Buckley. Courtesy of Holmdel Theatre Company

About Holmdel Theatre Company

The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) is a non-profit, semi-professional, educational theatre company dedicated to presenting fresh interpretations of classic plays as well as rarely-presented modern dramas and comedies. The Company’s unique mission is to integrate young people and non-professionals with professional actors, technicians, designers and directors in a collaborative artistic and educational exchange. This initiative is used to raise the level of performance and to help all performers grow artistically from the exposure to professionals in the field. (courtesy of company website

By David Auburn
Directed by Kathy Hendrickson
Produced by Laurie DeVino and Laura Casey

Holmdel Theatre Company
Duncan Smith Theater
36 Crawfords Corner Road, Holmdel, NJ    
Remaining shows: Fridays and Saturdays April 17, 18,  24 and 25 @8pm
Sunday, April 19 @2pm

Tickets can be purchased at
Adult – $22
Senior 65+ – $17
Student with ID – $12
* All transaction are subject to a $3.50 processing fee.
Group rates available

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