Spindrift’s “Proof” Up Close and Personal
There’s a reason I so dearly love black box theater. When it all works. It’s because you are face to face with, in the same room with, in intimate connection with everything that is happening on the stage. The stage is your living room, the sibling characters are your own family, their confrontations and confusions every bit as real as those you’ve been a part of. You are witness to every withering look, recipient of every caustic innuendo, sharing in every withheld tear.
It all works in Pacifica Spindrift’s current production of “Proof.” I had the great fortune to score a front row seat, so close I had to make sure my feet were tucked under my seat lest the actors trip over them. I know these four people in front of me were actors, their roles scripted (by playwright David Auburn), their movements blocked, their emotions barely held in check or given full release at a moment’s notice. But to me, this night was like watching life unfolding, close enough to my own personal experience to keep me spellbound the whole night.
The crisis unravels from the arcane heights of abstract academic mathematics, but it has more to do with the fragile hold some of us can barely keep on reality while looking for meaning in life where it may not exist. Or maybe we try so hard to make connections between lofty principles that we fail to make the most important ones at our fingertips.
And so we see these four characters, the disillusioned father Robert (Charles Evans) and his two daughters Catherine (Devon Degroot) and Claire (Nicole Odell), none of whom really know how to treat with each other, and the grad student/boyfriend Hal (Justin Lucas) who stumbles into the mess and only makes it worse.
I can’t say enough good things about these four performers and the interpersonal dynamics they each brought to their roles. It was as though I were watching two real sisters BE sisters, watching Hal and Claire try to figure out what they need to be with each other, watching Robert rise and then fall through the fog of his encroaching madness. Kudos also to director Gabriel A. Ross for shaping this whole production to such a finely woven tapestry, and for the decision to display it within the intimate confines of Pacifica Spindrift’s black box of their Muriel Watkin Performance Space.
Through January 28, 2018
At: 1050 Crespi Drive, Pacifica, California 94044