Friday, June 1, 2012

Positive "Proof" and Disunited Nations
Positive “Proof” at Palm Beach Dramaworks By Skip Sheffield With the apparent demise of Caldwell Theatre Company, we must look to the north for quality stage classics. Happily, Palm Beach Dramaworks moved into a beautiful, larger theater just in time to fill the void left by the bankruptcy of Florida Stage and the subsequent closing of Caldwell Theatre. “Proof” is the current production, up through June 17 at 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. It is wonderfully realized by a four-member cast under the direction of William Hayes. “Proof” won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for playwright David Auburn. It is easy to see why. The play is both about the nature of genius versus madness and the love of a father for his daughter. The father is Robert, played by former Caldwell Theatre educational director Kenneth Kay. The daughter Catherine is played by Katherine Michelle Turner. Roberts is a brilliant but unbalanced University of Chicago mathematics professor who has recently passed away. His daughter Catherine, 25, is also passionate about mathematics. She is a Northwestern University graduate student who may have authored the ground-breaking proof of the title. She may also share her father’s gene for mental instability. There is a romantic notion that there is a fine line between imaginative creativity and madness. Some psychological studies have found a common link between depression, bi-polarism and genius. “Proof” is more about family that it is about madness, and thereby lies its appeal. Catherine has an older sister Claire, played by Sarah Grace Wilson. Claire is a no-nonsense New York City currency analyst who wants Catherine to move in her and her husband. A fourth character is Hal (Cliff Burgess), also a graduate mathematician, whom Robert mentored. There is a certain romantic attraction between Hal and the professor’s daughter, but there is an element of doubt too. Hal does not believe Catherine has the intellect to create the complex proof he can barely understand. “Proof’ is a play of subtlety and nuance, set on a wonderfully realistic set by Michael Amico. Is genius akin to madness? Who knows? We are but mere mortals, but one thing is certain: “Proof” is a most satisfying piece of theater worthy of your notice. Tickets are $55. Call 561-514-4042 or visit A Very Disunited United Nations I used to think people who put down the United Nations were right-wing cranks. After seeing “U.N. and Me” I am not so sure. Ami Horowitz was an investment banker who back in 2006 became so troubled by the U.N. that he gave up his job, raised $2 million, and began traveling the world documenting the shortcomings and downright corruption of the world agency founded 60 years ago to promote peace and understanding amongst the disparate countries of the world. “U.N. and Me” is a funny, sarcastic film, but Horowitz is dead serious. Sometimes the U.N. promotes the exact opposite of peace. Sometimes altruistic programs, such as “Oil for Food,” go to line the pockets of despots and dictators. I can report first-hand that sometimes the U.N.’s presence has a very negative impact on a country. It was the U.N. that inadvertently introduced cholera to Haiti a year ago, resulting in thousands of deaths. Obviously there is no such thing as global consensus, but this wry, clear-eyed analysis of the U.N.’s shortcomings is a good place to start.

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