Tuesday, June 29, 2010

88. Proof by David Auburn

When the movie version of Proof came out, I somewhat wanted to see it. I love Jake Gyllenhaal and loved Gwyneth Paltrow at the time, which was before she became British and insufferable. Ultimately I thought the movie would be too sad, so I decided not to see it. I didn't think much of it until my friend Peter showed me the copy of the play that he found -- in perfect condition -- at a garage sale. He thought it might be fun to include a play in my reading project, which I thought was both smart and sweet.

We had kind of a long conversation about the book cover, by the way. Peter mentioned that he thought the woman on the cover resembled Mary-Louise Parker and I disagreed. I thought it looked more like Kristen Stewart -- most likely because of the sad expression. Miss Stewart is not all sunshine and rainbows, you know. We debated it for awhile, and I conceded that I could see why he thought it looked like MLP but the resemblance wasn't jumping out at me. I read over the back cover while we were talking about something else and noticed this line:

Cover photograph of Mary-Louise Parker in Proof by Jean-Marie Guyaux.

As it happens, MLP originated the role of Catherine. You learn something new every day.

On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Catherine, a young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, Robert, must deal not only with his death but with the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire, and with the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that Robert left behind. As Catherine confronts Hal's affections and Claire's plans for her new life, she struggles to solve the most perplexing problem of all: How much of her father's madness -- or genius -- will she inherit?

Plot summary taken from the back cover.

I haven't read a play since I was in school, not that I can remember anyway. And even then, I don't know that I've read one that's left me speechless, as Proof did. I felt completely blown away, and just sat to digest it for a few minutes. It is, quite simply, brilliant. Smart and witty, sarcastic but heartfelt -- I don't know how Auburn did it. And I really don't know how he managed to craft such a pitch-perfect relationship between the two sisters. I have to go on record and state that neither of my sisters is like Claire, but the way that Catherine and Claire interact and the sense of the history between the two of them is just staggering. He got it just, absolutely, perfectly right. In general, I don't even know how to articulate a response to the play. l was amazed.

Colin brought home the DVD of Proof that I had been so reluctant to see. And no, it did not end up being too sad. It was a very well-executed adaptation and in particular, well-casted. I recommend seeing it if you haven't already but I think the experience of reading the play is more enjoyable.  

No comments: