Adam Allen achieves something rare for local actors in Stage Door Entertainment’s “Proof.” He listens.
A good hunk of the fun is watching how he registers what others say to him. When he speaks, he seems to have just thought of the words. And his words always feel like an extension of what’s going on in his brain. This isn’t a flamboyant performance; there are no bells attached to it, announcing its skill. It’s quiet, masterful work.
The young Allen (an undergrad at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) is fortunate to get to showcase his considerable talents in David Auburn’s intriguing drama. The script is rich in surprise and insight.
Catherine (Brianne Bassler) is preparing to bury her mathematical-genius father (John Ivanoff), although she continues to spend days on her front porch conversing with him. Sister Claire (Jamie Carvelli) wants her to leave Chicago and move in with her in New York. She’s concerned. Twenty-something Catherine may have inherited her father’s mental illness. Claire at first seems an overbearing busybody, but as the play progresses, we wonder if maybe she’s right to want to take charge of Catherine’s life. Harold (Allen), the father’s former university assistant, discovers a proof among the man’s notebooks that just might change all their lives.
Director Heather Grindstaff tackles the script with simple, straight-forward clarity. You get the impression she knows when to get out of an actor’s way. There’s a smoothness to the evening, a consistency, that suggests a director’s intelligent and unobtrusive hand. Bassler and Carvelli are well-trained actors. They have a sense of economy and command that makes you want to watch them.
Perhaps the antagonistic relationship between the sisters is a tad overstated. (It’s difficult for actors to portray unpleasantness without being unpleasant to watch.) Ivanoff is a competent actor, but his mannerisms are getting the best of him. He needs to seek out directors who will demand more honesty and fewer tricks. And while Terrence Williams’ lighting is pleasant and admirable in its ability to suggest times of day, Luke Horvath’s generic porch set (with a “hardwood” floor!) fails at providing any kind of psychological environment.
But this is an absorbing experience. And Allen is an exciting discovery. He’s so good at hiding the work of acting that you think of his character as a genuine human being with a life well beyond the stage.
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.REVIEW
When: 8 P.M. TODAY, 2 P.M. SUNDAY
Where: FISCHER BLACK BOX, 3920 SCHIFF DRIVE
Tickets: $15-$18 (581-5008)