While she can come across as somewhat cold and shallow, the truth about Claire lies deeper than that; she is not necessarily envious of her sister’s greater intelligence, but she is afraid of it. In Claire’s world, institutions are the answer to mental illness because they put things “in their place” and keep things running in a predictable manner. She seems to have a great fear of volatile, unpredictable situations, and both Robert and Catherine represent that for her with their bright minds and (possible) mental instability. Claire is out of touch with the real emotional dynamics of the family; it is easier for her to write off both Catherine and Robert as mentally ill and to continue signing the checks than it is for her to deal with the situation in a hands-on manner and attempt to understand it. What is certain is that Claire, in her own way, cares very much about her sister Catherine’s well-being.
Walking the line between awkward and well meaning, and blundering and invasive, 28 year-old Hal is a former student of Robert’s. His lack of social grace, while different from Catherine’s, does in fact bring them closer together; both are devotees of her father’s brilliant mind. Hal is a mathematician but not a great one; he admires Robert’s accomplishments with a sort of hero worship, and reasonably assumes that Robert wrote the proof.
Hal’s motivations throughout his relationship with Catherine are somewhat in question. It seems that he is using Catherine, to a certain extent, in order to access her father’s notes; however, it’s not clear if he is doing this in a devious way or if he is just clueless as to the insensitivity of his behavior. Most readers tend to see him in the “clueless” light; Hal is simply too nerdy and too disingenuous to be acting in a pre-planned manner. His actions are often insensitive and he stampedes into Catherine’s life at a vulnerable time, but he is, nonetheless, helping her to unlock her brain and her life from the patterns they have followed for the past nine years, which may explain why Catherine warms to him as much as she does.
Information for this section was compiled from the following sources: http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/usplays/auburnd1.htm http://litsum.com/proof/ http://math.cofc.edu/kasman/MATHFICT/mfview.php?callnumber=mf139 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C00EEDE1431F932A15750C0A9629C8B63
A Note on Staging
The action in “Proof” takes place on a single set, which represents the back porch of Catherine and Robert’s house in Chicago. The deteriorating porch, with a dim glimpse of the house inside, effectively “grounds” the play, and this effect is encouraged by the fact that no more than two actors are on the stage at the same time. A sense of personal connection and intensity thus develops throughout the scenes, often in spite of what is taking place; the characters are revealing themselves to the audience even while remaining anchored in a limited area. The set intentionally illustrates the life Catherine has led for the past nine years. Like the audience, she has been confined to a small space but has stretched her mind in various new directions that may not have been possible in a more active, distracting environment.
Information for this section was compiled from the following sources: http://www.wolfmoonpress.com/Theater/proof.htm http://www.theatrereviews.com/proof.html