­­­­­­­­­Oil Lamp Theater’s PROOF Review – The Questions have no answers. Here’s PROOF.

How long has it been since you have sat spellbound in your seat in a theater where the conflicted “truths” are so scrambled you don’t know what to believe? Whom to trust? This is what theater is meant to be—so engrossing, hypnotic, fascinating yet troubling, you are glued to your seat. Totally involved. That’s PROOF. I can’t remember the last time I was so mesmerized by any production of any play! I rarely say this, but I do now: Don’t miss it.


Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play, David Auburn’s drama examines the conflict between the certain and uncertain. What do we really know for sure? When must we “take things on faith—especially when it’s a troubled loved one? While the rigid rules of science and mathematics can be a comforting constant in an ever-changing world, human relationships to provide essential empathy and acceptance. Exposing our emotions to another person may surpass the difficulty of testing a mathematical proof, but it may yield the incalculably valuable result of trust and affirmation from the most basic of impulses, the human connection.


Set in Chicago, Proof highlights the struggles faced by women in science and mathematics—still outnumbered by their male counterparts, women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields continue to face gender discrimination and lack of representation in research and higher education.


On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, when Auburn’s female protagonist, Catherine, is forced to defend her intellectual ownership of a groundbreaking mathematical proof hidden within her father’s journals (intriguing metaphor!), she must fight against societal—and self-imposed—limitations to fully embrace her potential genius. As Catherine acquires a new assertiveness in her personal and intellectual pursuits, Proof demonstrates the power of self-determination in defying expectations and obliterating stereotypes.


The cast features Ann Marie White as Catherine, Hannah Williams as Claire, Martin J. Hughes as Hal, and Joe Page as Robert. All deliver gripping, riveting performances. Traci Cidlik serves as Stage Manager.


In fact, all aspects of this production are so true-to-life, when it’s over many in the audience just sat there stunned. Were they, like me, trying to “snap back to reality?”


So, the ultimate question for you still is, “Is PROOF worth seeing?” If you are really looking for a thought-provoking play that will expand your idea of the value and importance of ideas, YES! It will have you scratching your head days later!


Speaking of later, Proof is the first in a trilogy of plays about women in society:


Proof by David Auburn,

Father of the Bride by Caroline Francke:  April 14

On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson:  June 16

I am very intrigued by the connections/contradictions and coincidences in these three works and anxious to see exactly how they compare and contradict one another. 


You should also take advantage of this new program offered by Oil Lamp Theater:

 By Lamplight, Oil Lamp Theater’s community engagement series


The March 3 Proof audience received a double intellectual treat. Not only did they enjoy the intellectual challenge of this fascinating play, but they will also be the first to enjoy, By Lamplight.


Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth, Assistant Executive Director Marisa Lerman, and Associate Artistic Director Stephen Smith rollout their red carpet with a new community engagement initiative, By Lamplight: Community Nights at Oil Lamp Theater. Created with first-time visitors in mind, By Lamplight invites newcomers to experience a free night of live theater in the most intimate and welcoming of settings in suburban Chicago.


Attendees of this series will enjoy special access to artists and an inside look at the theater through pre- and post-show experiences. Audience members are invited to arrive an hour before curtain (8:00 pm on Thursdays) for stimulating discussion and refreshments, with the opportunity to engage with creative staff and experience the artistic process like never before. By Lamplight is inspired by the Free Night of Theater program originally created by the Theatre Communications Group and aims to increase accessibility to the performing arts for new audiences.


The series, which coincides with opening night for each production, will commence on Thursday, March 3, with Proof by David Auburn, directed by Keith Gerth. The comfortable lobby welcomes patrons starting at 7:00pm, with an 8:00pm curtain. Oil Lamp Theater is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Cook County North Suburban (NAMI CCNS) for the production of Proof, which chronicles a young woman coming to terms with her father’s mental illness as she questions her role as a caregiver and the uncertain nature of her inheritance: Will she receive her father’s mathematical brilliance or his unstable disposition? Relating themes of the play to challenges facing today’s patients and families, a representative of the NAMI Cook County North Suburban (CCNS) affiliate will provide insights on mental health issues through a pre-show introduction and a brief post-show discussion.


Upcoming installments of By Lamplight are as follows:


Proof by David Auburn: March 3 to April 3

Father of the Bride by Caroline Francke:  April 14

On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson:  June 16


The season, based on iconic, memory-laden movies continues with:

12 Angry Jurors by Reginald Rose:  August 11

44 Plays for 44 Presidents byAndy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg: October 6

It’s a Wonderful Life - A Live Radio Play adapted by Joe Landry: November 24


To reserve free tickets, call 847-834-0738 or visit oillamptheater.org and use code spark. Limit two tickets per order.


Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm.


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