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A Play

David Auburn

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Proof Download image

ISBN10: 0571199976
ISBN13: 9780571199976

Trade Paperback

96 Pages



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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

One of the most acclaimed plays of the 1999-2000 season, Proof is a work that explores the unknowability of love as much as it does the mysteries of science.

It focuses on Catherine, a young woman who has spent the last several years caring for her father, Robert, a brilliant mathematician in his youth who, in his later years, was unable to function without her help. His death has brought into her midst both her sister, Claire, who wants to take Catherine back with her to New York so that she can live a normal life for the first time, as well as Hal, a former student of Catherine's father who starts going through dozens of Robert's notebooks, hoping to find some hint of his earlier genius in among the incoherent scribblings. The passion that Hal feels for math both moves and angers Catherine, who, in her exhaustion, is torn between missing her loving but unstable father and resenting the great sacrifices she made for him. For Catherine has inherited at least a part of her father's brilliance—and perhaps some of his instability as well. As she and Hal become attracted to each other, they push at the edges of each other's knowledge, considering not only the unpredictability of genius and the difficulty of achieving a mathematical proof but also exploring the human instinct toward love and trust—and how impossible it is to know for certain when any of these has been attained.


Praise for Proof

"Proof [is] a play about scientists whose science matter less than their humanity."—John Simon, New York

"An exhilarating and assured new play . . . accessible and compelling as a detective story."—Bruce Weber, The New York Times

"Auburn has taken on some biggies here; what the link may be between genius and mental instability, why it is that lives get stuck, and how elusive the truth can be . . . [Proof's] level of accomplishment and the realness of its characters show that Auburn has both depth and a voice."—The New Yorker

"An exciting new drama . . . Combines elements of mystery and surprise with old-fashioned storytelling to provide a compelling evening of theater."—David Kaufman, New York Daily News

"Proof surprises us with its aliveness and intelligent modesty . . . [Auburn] takes pleasure in knowledge . . . At the same time, he is unshowily fresh and humane."—John Halpern, The New York Observer

"A new play of deep, richest melancholia [that is also] wonderfully funny."—Robert Hofler, Variety

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

David Auburn

David Auburn's plays include Skyscraper (Greenwich House Theater) and Fifth Planet (New York Stage and Film). In 2001 he received the Kesselring Prize and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

David Auburn