Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Hard Bargain Players Proof

By • Aug 13th, 2007 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Hard Bargain Players’ production of Proof [MP3 4:08 1.2MB].

Laura: Saturday evening we saw Hard Bargain Players and their production of Proof in Accokeek Maryland.

Mike: Proof is a play by David Auburn. The play concerns Catherine, the daughter of Robert, a recently deceased mathematical genius and professor at the University of Chicago. And her struggle with mathematical genius and mental illness. Catherine cared for her father through a lengthy mental illness. Upon his death, an ex-graduate student, Hal, discovers a paradigm shifting proof about prime numbers in Robert’s office. And to the play’s central question: Can Catherine prove the proof’s authorship? Throughout, the play explores Catherine’s fear of following in her father’s foot steps, both mathematically and mentally.

Laura: This was an intense show. Not a lot of action. It was very much a character driven show. It was very well performed with a good pace. Started out maybe a little bit slow. Everybody took a little bit to warm up. But once they got into it and the second act especially brought out a lot of feelings that have been buried deep.

Mike: I enjoyed this show. There were a few nuances in the performance that I really enjoyed. I think they all seemed to be pretty believable. I think the emotions were a little more subdued than I was expecting. We talked with the director James Watson and he pointed out that in the first act one of the characters is clinically depressed. That could be why she wasn’t hopping around or whatever else I might have been expecting.

Laura: Catherine, the daughter, was played by Missy Bell. She did a good job. Again, as Mike said, in the first act she was pretty subdued and kind of monotone. In the second act she definitely warmed up. Got a lot more emotion. Got a lot angrier and frustrated. The second act she kind of let that show. She had some good scenes with her sister Claire.

Mike: Catherine’s father Robert was played by Bill Graves. I liked his performance. He was very methodical. He was very much in the moment. In the second act there was a scene that was a little bit sad and I actually saw tears in his eyes. That was a very moving scene and I liked his performance a lot.

Laura: Hal the grad student was played by Trey Thomas. He kind of started out very nervous. He was pretty unsure of himself. He was a math geek as Catherine pointed out to him. He kind of stumbled a little bit at the beginning, but in the second act I think he got into a rhythm, kind of calmed down. He was very caring about Catherine, but was also very respectful towards Robert. He really appreciated his genius and then wanted to help out the situation. He really developed some feelings for Catherine. I thought he performed well.

Mike: Catherine’s big sister Claire was played by Karen Lange. She did a good job as well. She was very much in control and very used to being in control. She was a New Yorker. She wanted to take charge and have nothing to do with Chicago anymore. That made for a great deal of tension later in the show. I really liked her portrayal.

Laura: I really liked the set for Proof. The Set Designer was also the show’s director James Watson. It was very nicely done. Everything took place on the back porch of this home. They had some really nice touches in that when it was evening a light came on in the back porch. It was pretty detailed and just really warm and added to the outdoorsy feeling that you are already experience at the Hard Bargain Amphitheater. The lighting design was done by April Weimer.

Mike: Proof is playing for two more weekends at the Hard Bargain Amphitheater in Accokeek, Maryland. Fraday and Saturday nights at 8 pm. The show runs about two and a half hours long with one intermission.

Laura: And now, on with the show.


  • Catherine: Missy Bell
  • Robert: Bill Graves
  • Hal: Trey Thomas
  • Claire: Karen Lange


  • Director: James D. Watson
  • Stage Manager: Mel Gilpin
  • Light Design: April D. Weimer
  • Costume Design: Melody Sciarratta
  • Set Design: James D. Watson
  • Sound Design: James D. Watson
  • Master Electrician: April D. Weimer
  • Properties: Mel Gilpin
  • Light Board Operator: April D. Weimer
  • Sound Board Operator: David Timmerman
  • Set Construction and Painting: Ann Mari Czaban, Mel Gilpin, Greg Huss, James D. Watson
  • Set Decoration: Ann Marie Czaban
  • Incidental Music Composition and Performance: James D. Watson
  • Program Design: Bill Graves
  • Promotional Material Art, Design, and Photography: Ann Marie Czaban, James D. Watson
  • Public Relations and Marketing: Ann Marie Czaban
  • House Manager: Janet Zavistovich
  • Facilities Manager: David Thomas
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