REVIEW: Proof (Chicago Fusion Theatre)


Must proof be a prerequisite for belief?


Proof-Hal (Nick Freed & Claire (Nilsa Reyna) photo by Scott L. Schoonover

Chicago Fusion Theatre presents

Written by
David Auburn
Directed by Alex C. Moore
Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
through November 14  |  tickets: $25  |  more info

Reviewed by Allegra Gallian

Proof, a play by David Auburn, a fascinating piece of work that plays with the double entendre of the word “proof” that occurs throughout the show: literal math proofs being solved as well as the need for proof to discover the truth. How can a person prove a fact that seems impossible? Can someone who’s certifiably lost their mind prove to still be a genius in their work? Chicago Fusion Theatre touches on these and so much more with their production.

Robert (Sandy Elias and Catherine (Natalie DiCristofano) photo by Scott L. Schoonover) The set design, by Scott Schoonover, is subtle yet bold, particularly in the color choices of stark white against bright blue. Suspended above the stage are multiple torn-apart notebooks full of mathematical equations. The rest of the set mimics the notebooks in both color and information, with the stages outer walls also covered in equations.  A mirrored backdrop provides the actors space to add additional equations. The set itself if bare save for one chair.

Proof opens on Catherine (Natalie DiCristofano), on her 25th birthday, talking with her father, Robert (Sandy Elias). Desipite DiCristofano and Elias having a real connection that radiates out into the space, DiCristofano starts off a little shaky as she tries to find her ground. As the show continues, however, she definitely improves and finds the depths of Catherine. Elias is instantly personable as he fills the space. When he speaks he owns the stage with an amiable presence.

The plot twists and suddenly it’s clear that Catherine is, in fact, speaking with her dead father – whom she’d taken care of in life – in her own thoughts. It’s a quick turn that pulls the audience further into the action, then caries it forward. Hal (Nick Freed), a former student of Robert’s is going through Robert’s old notebooks, looking for uncovered mathematical discoveries. Freed is funny and charming in his role; he understands his character’s intentions and brings Hal to life.

Catherine’s sister Claire (Nilsa Reyna), returns home for their father’s funeral and to help Catherine out until she figures out what to do. Reyna starts out flat, especially as her character demands that emotions are let loose loose and exposed. DiCristofano, on the other hand, flourishes with her understated, dry humor as she delves into the depths of her character.

Hal (Nick Freed) photo by Scott L. Schoonover Catherine (Natalie DiCristofano) photo by Scott L. Schoonover
Catherine (Natalie DiCristofano & Robert Sandy Elias) photo Scott L. Schoonover Robert (Sandy Elias) Photo by Scott L. Schoonover

DiCristofano, like Elias, has great stage chemistry with Freed. They play well off of each other. Whenever there’s a scene between DiCristofano and Elias or DiCristofano and Freed, it’s captivating.

Through Proof, the action moves quickly and efficiently. There’s no point in which a scene drags on or is dragged out, allowing the scenes to flow and keep the audience’s attention. In between scenes the characters all add more and more mathematical equations to the walls of the set, adding to the chaos occurring around them. It’s an interesting punctuation between the performances and character interactions.

When Elias takes the stage later in the show in flashbacks of Catherine’s memory, he’s quite a stage presence. He’s full of life and commands the audience’s attention so it’s impossible to tear yourself away.

As the characters become more emotional, the scenes become more raw and heart wrenching. Since it’s such a small space, you can see all of the emotions play out in the actor’s eyes, pulling us into the action and holding us hostage.

Chicago Fusion has given us proof that they are a talented company, ably conveying their seismic artistic voice in intimate spaces.  

Rating: ★★★½

Catherine (Natalie DiCristofano) photo by Scott Schoonover) Proof plays at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., through November 14. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (312) 988-9000 or at the Royal George Theatre’s Web site.


Proof cover imageProduction Personnel

David Auburn, a Chicago native, received a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Proof. It opened Off Broadway in May 2000, transferred to Broadway in October that same year and ran for an impressive 917 performances. Proof quickly became the most produced play of the last decade, and now returns to Chicago audiences after 4 years.

Featuring: Natalie DiCristofano, Sandy Elias, Nick Freed, and Nilsa Reyna

Technical Staff: Christopher Kriz (Sound), Scott L. Schoonover (Sets, Props and Costumes), Lindsey Lyddan (Lights), and Noel Spence ( Production Stage Management).

Cast and Director Bios

Natalie DiCristofano (Catherine) is a Chicago area native and proud alumnus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She has appeared in CFT’s Hugging the Shoulder (Christy),bobrauschenbergamerica (Phil’s Girl), 12 Hungry Men (Mary Magdalene) and J.B. (Sarah). Other favorite credits include: Right Brain Project’s production of Hesperia (Claudia), HotCity Theatre’s A Clockwork Orange (Girl/Nurse/Pete’s Wife), Irina in the side project’s Cut to the Quick: Splayed Verbiage (Space by Laura Jacqmin), Amanda in New Leaf Theatre’s Treehouse Reading SeriesLeocadia (Time Remembered), and she has appeared as a “Celebrity Guest Judge” in several seasons of Cornservatory’s Original Improv Gladiators. On a personal note, she would like to thank her family for their love and support.  Please continue to support the storefront theatre community in Chicago.

Sandy Elias (Robert) a graduate of Northwestern University, Sandy has recently performed with Piccolo Theater, Adventure Stage Chicago, Chicago Fusion Theatre and Stage Left Theatre. While an associate artist with the Southwest Shakespeare Company in Arizona, Sandy performed in over half the works of Shakespeare.

Nick Freed (Hal) as a proud Missourian, Nick has been in Chicago since the spring of 2008. He has worked with wonderful companies on wonderful shows including NachtKabarett with Painted Lady Productions, Dracula at The Building Stage, and both iterations of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with Filament Theater Ensemble, Hesperia with the Right Brain Project, as well as A Commedia Christmas Carol, Murder, Murder, Murder, A Hampstead Hooligan in King Arthur’s Court, and The Literati with Chicago dell’Arte of which he is Associate Artistic Director. Nick would like to his friends and 100% most importantly his family for their completely undying support of his vast dreams.

Nilsa Reyna (Claire) has directed 12 Hungry Men and Hugging the Shoulder at CFT.  She is a former founding ensemble member of Teatro Luna and has directed staged readings of Lullaby, Thirst, A Basket of Fruit, The Tortilla Trilogy and Our Family Moment, all at TL.  Select acting credits include: Lorca in a Green Dress (Halcyon Theatre); The Other Shore (Halcyon Theatre); The Mark of Zorro (Lifeline Theatre); bobrauschenbergamerica (Chicago Fusion Theatre); The Massacre (Halcyon Theatre); A Humechanical Nightmare (Lucid Street Theatre); The Seagull (GroundUpTheatre); Operation Infiltration (The Factory Theater); Escanaba in da Moonlight (Circle Theatre); Big Love (The Mill); Anna in the Tropics (Victory Gardens Theater).  As a Teaching Artist she has held residencies through Raven Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Court Theatre and independently at J.G. Whittier Community School, where she has worked with students ranging from 5-16 years old.

Alex C. Moore (Director) is Director of Public Relations for CFT and a company member since 2008. Alex has worked with: Factory Theater, Cornservatory, Stages St. Louis, HotCity Theatre, Teatro Luna, Chicago Dramatists and Echo Theatre. Past shows include:J.B., bobrauschenbergamerica, The Pillowman, Unidentified Human Remains or the True Nature of Love, Orpheus Descending, and Twelfth Night. Alex attended Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville and is a Missouri native. Big love to his family for their continual support. Thank you for helping keep Chicago Storefront Theatre alive.


2 Responses

  1. Good luck Carmine xoxo
    Break a leg

    love your cuz. Gina

  2. Good luck Carmine xoxo
    Break a leg

    love your cuz. gina

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