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Theater Review: Gifted, Compelling Work On TheatreWorks Stage

Published: February 23, 2018

Elizabeth Young

    NEW MILFORD — David Aubrun’s powerful and eloquent family drama Proof is on stage at TheatreWorks New Milford. The one word of the title has many meanings, and Aubrun has articulated each of them in this exquisitely written play. Director Frank Arcaro has skillfully cast and staged this piece with brilliant actors who deliver an ardent portrayal of love, in all its many colors.

    Robert (played by Viv Beger) is a world renowned mathematician who developed theories in his youth that were groundbreaking. He has had little success since.

    Residing with his equally gifted and possibly cursed young daughter Catherine (Anna Fagan), Robert struggles as he tries to re-establish himself as relevant while battling the insidious erosion of his mind. There is so much to share, yet much loneliness as they tug at each other while trying to hold themselves together and move on.

    Robert’s older daughter Claire (Carey Van Hollen) swoops in after a long period of absence. She has a remedy for all that hurts and harms both her father and sister. Yet she may be too little too late. Try as she might, and love as she knows how, she cannot penetrate their insular world of genius.

    Infatuated PhD student Hal (Daniel Basiletti), an ardent fan of Robert and smitten with Catherine, is persistent in his efforts to uncover the methods in his idol’s madness.

    This play packs an emotional punch. The strong and palpable connection between father and daughter is heart-wrenching. Their bond is a live wire and its portrayal truly electric. The relationship is deeply complicated. They understand each other in a way that they alone can comprehend.

    Viv Berger and Anna Fagan get to the very core of their characters. They play their roles so richly, they resonate fully. Both actors have extraordinary ability and take their respective characters through the broadest possible range of emotions.

    Anna Fagan portrays Catherine’s grief, fear, and resignation with aplomb. She can barely carry the weight of her sadness, yet her genius is always lurking just below the surface. Berger’s Robert is energetic, with a sharp wit. This actor finds every quirk and complexity in this joyful yet tragic character. Both are magnificent.

    Carey Van Hollen plays the clipped and efficient Claire to a tee. She is a solid talent who never fails to bring her very best to the stage. Likewise Daniel Basiletti’s Hal is all gawky and awestruck, yet not without significant charm. He plays the baffled and determined Hal with an earnest sincerity.

    This play has sticking power. It is so human and intimate, it reverberates for days. This is compelling work about the nature of families and how far people will go to love, the best way they know how. An extraordinary night at the theater awaits; do not miss it.

    Performances continue weekends to March 10, with curtain on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sunday, March 4, at 2 pm. Tickets for all shows are $25 for reserved seating, $20 for students and members of the Armed Forces with ID.

    TheatreWorks is at 5 Brookside Avenue in New Milford. Parking is behind The Catherine E. Lillis Administration Building, to the immediate north of the theater building at 50 East Street.

    Reservations and additional information is available by calling 860-350-6863 or visiting

     Proof at TW New Milford -- Berger, Basiletti & Fagan

    Robert (Viv Berger), left, shares a moment with PhD student Hal (Daniel Basiletti) and younger daughter Catherine (Anna Fagan) in a scene from the TheatreWorks New Milford production of David Aubrun’s family drama Proof.
    —Richard Pettibone photo