ALTHOUGH David Auburn’s Proof takes its name from a mathematical procedure, you don’t have to be a mathematician in order to appreciate the subtle beauty of the play. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play is essentially a family drama and is not loaded with heavy dialogue.

Proof is about Catherine (Lea Salonga) and her relationship with her deceased father, her sister, and her father’s protegee, Hal (Joel Trinidad).

Her natural mathematical genius and her authorship of an important mathematical proof serve as the factors that propel the plot forward.

The first act opens with a flashback of Catherine and her father Robert (Michael De Mesa) having a conversation at their brick home in Chicago. In this scene, Catherine’s bitterness is already evident. She answers sarcastically her father’s encouragement to live her life. Things take a surprising turn when it is revealed shortly that Robert is dead. A shocking silence underscores this moment and the drama unfolds.

Four years back, Robert, a renowned math genius, became mentally ill. Because of that, Catherine gave up her studies and stayed home to take care of her father. Her sister Claire (Menchu Lauchencgco-Yulo) was working in New York in order for them to pay the bills, leaving Catherine alone with their sick father.

Back at present, Catherine is sad and resentful at the wake of her father. Her sister arrives for their father’s funeral, and their estrangement is clearly defined. Claire, inspite of her sincerity, cannot understand Catherine’s coldness.

The only person with whom Catherine shares a small degree of closeness is Hal, Robert’s former student, who is already a professor. Hal visits their house often to study the writings his mentor left, hoping to answer a mathematical problem that has eluded mathematicians for centuries. The discovery of a mathematical solution written in one of Robert’s notebook upsets their fragile romance. Act one ends with Catherine’s claim that she herself wrote the proof.

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Act Two revolves around Catherine’s reluctance to accept her mathematical gift and her fear of becoming crazy like her father. Flashbacks are employed to give the audience a glimpse of the bond between father and daughter.

Salonga, with all her acting finesse, breathes life into the dispirited character of Catherine. She delivers her lines with confidence and portrays the role with grace and elegance.

A veteran film and television actor, De Mesa gives an excellent portrayal of the demented math genius Robert, showing great depth and flexibility in acting lucid one moment, and demented in the next.

Yulo is perfect for the role of the sophisticated, but clueless Claire. Also, she manages to convincingly act comic and dramatic, whenever the situation arises.

Meanwhile, Trinidad is not left without merit either. Another theater veteran, he is commendable in his depiction of Hal’s character, providing the character a unique blend of shyness, charm, and intellect.

The play does not boast of majestic scene changes. Its beauty lies in Auburn’s brilliant script. The dialogue is elegant and clever, though a little too explicit. It is full of wit and realism, grounded on characters that are human and believable.

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