Review: Proof by David Auburn, at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Jamie Parker as Hal and Mariah Gale as Catherine. Photo: Alastair Muir

Jamie Parker as Hal and Mariah Gale as Catherine. Photo: Alastair Muir

Of all the popular beliefs about maths, the most striking  is that world class mathematicians do their best work by the age of 25. Is that true, or even perceived to be true, for any other field? Maths, the most cerebral  of sciences, requires high speeds, recklessness and energy that often cannibalises the mind and the physical world. Science for the adrenaline junkies.

David Auburn’s play Proof captures the ferocious energy and emotional turbulence of its subject matter. Three people, at different stages of their life, obsess with maths and feed off each others’ energy, ideas and emotions. The three ages of the mathematician, none of them complacent, all of them fascinating to watch. Continue reading

Review: Three Sisters at the Young Vic

Gala Gordon as Irina, Mariah Gale as Olga & Vanessa Kirby as Masha. Photo Simon Annand

A talented cast, a classic play, a theatre that regularly produces thrilling work (see A Doll’s House only a few weeks ago), where did all go wrong? You might have guessed that this production won’t make it to my top ten of the year, but a word of warning, my negative view of the production is considerably stronger than a mild dislike.

Short disclaimer: I have seen a few plays by Anton Chekhov, but I haven’t seen Three Sisters before. I don’t dislike unconventional interpretations of classic plays, it’s up to every individual production to won me over. But Three Sisters at the Young Vic, adapted and directed by Benedict Andrews, is so far off the mark that at times I felt personally insulted it was wasting my time (and at three hours running time, that’s a lot of time to waste).

The adaptation sets the play in modern times, the actors wear modern, if largely old fashioned, clothes and words like television and hair transplant are used. But the setting is neither naturalistic nor poetic, and that world never comes alive. It’s a vague place for people who probably don’t exist whose suffering is not real. As a result, their conflicts seem small minded and inconsequential. The modern words make the text sound banal, which in turn makes Chekhov’s big ideas sound nonsensical. Continue reading