"Proof" - by David Auburn - Studio Theatre Worcester (Worcester, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Mike Daniel as "Hal" with Sandy Clancy as "Catherine" in a scene from "PROOF" by David Auburn, presented by Studio Theatre Worcester in Worcester, MA. now playing through June 16, 2024. Photo Credit John Somers)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“Take it from me. A very good sign that you’re crazy is an inability to ask the question ‘Am I Crazy?’” 

                                   – (“Robert”) / David Auburn

Studio Theatre Worcester  

Presents David Auburn's 


Written by David Auburn

Directed by John Wayland Somers

Cast Includes: Brad Walker as "Robert," Sandy Clancy as "Catherine," Mike Daniel as "Hal," Sonya Richards as "Claire"

Additional Creative Team:

Intimacy Director – Katelyn Moran; Stage Manager - Morgan Fitzpatrick; Dramaturg - Lydia Cochran; Production Manager - Lydia Cochran; Graphic Design/Social Media - Sandy Clancy; Tech Director / Designer - David Plante; Social Media Assistant - Elle Sciore.


June 7, 2024 through June 16, 2024 

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)

Performances to be held in the black box theatre at the Worcester Academy Performance Center, 15 Marion Street, Worcester, MA.





Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

Studio Theatre Worcester (STW) offers up some conclusive evidence of top notch ensemble performing in the drama "PROOF" by David Auburn

The STW production is gripping, unnerving, uncomfortable and absolutely splendid throughout as we witness a father and daughter who must each come to terms with their respective declining mental health.

"PROOF" was developed in New Jersey in 1999

Auburn's play made its Broadway debut in 2000 where it ran for 917 performances, becoming established as the longest-running Broadway play of the 21st century

The play won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play

In 2005, "PROOF" was adapted to a film directed by John Madden and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins and Jake Gyllenhaal

Auburn's play undergoes careful scrutiny as staged for STW as part of the discerning direction by John Somers

The fabulous four-person STW cast give their all in showcasing the depths of each character's struggle. 

(Photo: Sandy Clancy as "Catherine" with Brad Walker as "Robert" in an emotionally charged scene from "PROOF" by David Auburn, presented by Studio Theatre Worcester in Worcester, MA. now playing through June 16, 2024. Photo Credit Elle Sciore)

The play focuses on Catherine (Sandy Clancy), daughter of Robert (Brad Walker), a (spoiler alert) recently deceased mathematical genius who was also a University of Chicago professor. 

Walker is charismatic in his balanced, sympathetic portrayal of the esteemed professor, loving father and burdened genius. 

Catherine struggles with Robert, who is a mathematical genius and struggling with mental illness...which is rather odd, in and of itself, for as the play begins, Catherine is actually having a deep, rather lucid conversation with her father about her turning a quarter of a century-old. 

Catherine had cared for her father through his lengthy mental health struggle. 

Now, she is afraid of following him down a similar dark path. 

The scenes between Clancy and Walker exquisitely show the deep bond between father and daughter, and the painful reality of Robert's worsening condition and how that bond extends even beyond his passing. 

(Photo: Mike Daniel as "Hal" with Sandy Clancy as "Catherine" in a scene from "PROOF" by David Auburn, presented by Studio Theatre Worcester in Worcester, MA. now playing through June 16, 2024. Photo Credit Elle Sciore)

Upon Robert's death, Catherine points Robert's ex-graduate student, Hal (Mike Daniel), to a secret drawer in Robert's office.

Catherine has graciously allowed Hal the opportunity to search through her father’s home in an attempt to locate anything – any notes - that would help support his theory. 

Hal discovers a paradigm-shifting "PROOF" about prime numbers. 

Hal points out that what is written in the notebook could be a "game changer" in the world of mathematics, especially since it was written at a time when her father’s mental acuity was not in question. 

That's when Catherine announces something completely shocking which becomes a "game changer" in itself.

The title refers both to that "PROOF" and to the play's central question: 

Can Catherine show beyond doubt the authenticity and authorship for what is written in the notebook? 

Can she, that is, provide the "PROOF?"

Complicating matters further, Catherine also finds herself getting deeper into a relationship with Hal. 

Daniel elicits a marvelous congeniality as Hal, who has a budding attraction toward Catherine, as well. 

There are moments, too, when he effectively shows us how Hal is put into enormously unfair emotional positions, especially once family begins arriving for Robert's funeral and long brewing feuds are re-ignited.

(Photo: Sonya Richards as "Claire" sits with Sandy Clancy as "Catherine" in a scene from "PROOF" by David Auburn, presented by Studio Theatre Worcester in Worcester, MA. now playing through June 16, 2024. Photo Credit Elle Sciore)

Claire (Sonya Richards), Catherine's sister, arrives in Chicago from New York for their father’s funeral and comes bearing both good news and some horrifying news for Catherine. 

Claire tells Catherine that she is getting married and selling the family home, inviting Catherine to stay with her and her fiancé in New York

Actually, "inviting" is probably not the right word. 

"Insisting" would be more accurate.

Claire tries to convince Catherine to move to New York to live with her permanently, believing Catherine, like Robert, is becoming too unstable mentally to live alone. 

Catherine vehemently denies this, but Claire is adamant. 

Richards provides a richly layered performance as Claire who is not the villain here.

Throughout "PROOF," though, Claire is often seen being at odds with Catherine and the several battles waged between the two sisters are fierce. 

Catherine demands to know why Claire is pressuring her and Claire reminds her of how she had to be the "responsible one" in the family. 

Claire tells Catherine how the police contacted her about their wanting to perform a “wellness check” on Catherine after an incident.

As their father's health declined, Claire carried the financial load and is now concerned, after the incident, Catherine may be extending this responsibility, which is a massive burden Claire no longer wishes to carry.

(Photo: Brad Walker as university professor "Robert" chats with Mike Daniel as his student "Hal" in a scene from "PROOF" by David Auburn, presented by Studio Theatre Worcester in Worcester, MA. now playing through June 16, 2024. Photo Credit Elle Sciore)

Auburn’s dialogue flows quite naturally in "PROOF" with every moment coming across as genuine as opposed to contrived. 

Throughout, the story goes deep into Catherine's fear of following in her father's footsteps, both mathematically and mentally. 

She worries about the “machine” – her father’s euphemism for the mind.

Sandy Clancy gives a masterful performance  in "PROOF" as Catherine. If this were a film she would most likely be nominated for an Oscar. 

On stage, though, at least at the June 7th performance, her emotional intensity was so internalized and unnerving, her volume dropped to such a point that more augmentation was required. 

In general, it was very hard to hear the performers without some kind of augmentation yet some of the other performers who had similar issues were able to offset this problem by projecting more. 

That said, when the scenes require a more outwardly explosive emotional intensity, Clancy is right there in the moment and delivers this in spades. It is undeniably one of the finest performances this reviewer has seen this season.

(Photo: Mike Daniel as "Hal" with Sandy Clancy as "Catherine" in a scene from "PROOF" by David Auburn, presented by Studio Theatre Worcester in Worcester, MA. now playing through June 16, 2024. Photo Credit John Somers)

As mentioned, there are some toxic exchanges and emotionally charged scenes, especially between Robert and Catherine (or Catherine and...well, anybody, really), and any person feeling easily emotionally "triggered" should be aware of the content before seeing this show.  

Yet, Somers overall thoughtful approach to the material shows a great sensitivity, empathy and care taken to respect Auburn's original text and the subject matter at hand. 

The set used for "PROOF" is extremely well designed by David Plante and efficiently utilizes the entire Academy Performance Center space. 

The attention to detail is extraordinary with a fine use of the upper level of the set, as well. 

As she seemingly battles with everyone, friend or foe, Catherine focuses on her emotionally charged situation and her attempts to remain in control of her own mental health.

Studio Theatre Worcester's "PROOF" continues at Worcester Academy Performance Center in Worcester until June 16th and the caliber of performances makes it "proof positive" that this is a great show.

For tickets, visit https://www.studiotheatreworcester.org/tickets  


Approximately two hours, 15 minutes with one intermission.  

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)




Catherine has inherited her late father’s mathematical brilliance, but she is haunted by the fear that she might also share his debilitating mental illness. 

She has spent years caring for her now-deceased father, and upon his death, she feels left alone to pick up the pieces of her life without him. 

Caught between a new-found connection with Hal, one of her father’s former students, and the reappearance of her sister, Claire, Catherine finds both her world and her mind growing increasingly unstable. 

Then Hal discovers a groundbreaking proof among the 103 notebooks Catherine’s father left behind, and Catherine is forced to further question how much of her father’s genius or madness will she inherit. 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, David Auburn’s "PROOF" is a passionate, intelligent story about fathers and daughters, the nature of genius, and the power of love. (STAGEAGENT)



STUDIO THEATRE WORCESTER (STW) is committed to a differentiated, professional theatre experience that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Worcester communities. Our high quality, theatrical productions and education programs inspire and challenge our audiences while providing compensated opportunities for artists. 


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