Proof is American playwright David Auburn‘s powerful Pulitzer Prize winning play about a daughter’s fear and a father’s legacy. Fresh from her encore performance in Bad Jews, actor Anna Burgess plays Claire (daughter to Robert and sister to Catherine) who left her family behind to take up residence in New York in pursuit of her career. When her father dies she makes it home for his funeral and the sisters are left to console each other while grappling with their own demons.
Burgess is enamoured with her character and describes her as the meaning of the name itself, Claire, is bright and clear. “That’s what she is, clear of heart. Loving,” explains Burgess. “Claire has flown over to Chicago for her fathers funeral and to connect with her younger sister Catherine. Claire’s grief is very distinctly her own. As is everyone’s in the play. I personally feel very deeply empathetic and connected to the way in which Claire is dealing with such trauma. It’s bottled up, overlaid with her need to nurture but her pain is ever so present every step of the way.”
Auburn explores themes of family, grief and mental illness. His play introduces two characters of exceptional intelligence and ponders questions of genius and mental illness and where the two collide. The work introduces a fascinating mathematical proof, its authorship and the sacrifices that family make for one another. The play is both humorous and heart-warming and, says Burgess, is a heartbreakingly honest journey through each characters sense of loss.
Burgess acknowledges the brilliance of the play by admitting it’s too hard to choose a favourite scene or moment. However, having sisters herself, and understating that dynamic, she adores the moments between Claire and Catherine. “The scenes the sisters share are at times so sweetly humorous,” she says. “The possibility of a boyfriend, the discussion of Jojoba. It’s hilarious. But then the sweet tenderness between father and daughter and the constant awkward interruptions of Hal make for other genius moments.”
The play is being brought to the Alex by Artefact Theatre Company, a Melbourne based independent theatre company founded by actor and producer Mark Yeates. The name was derived from the idea that a powerful piece of theatre will leave something behind with an audience, reminding us that live theatre is a profound and lasting experience. Auburn’s Proof is an excellent choice for the philosophy of this ‘new kid on the indie block’ as it promises a beautifully haunting story that will resonate with audiences long after they have left the theatre space.
“Proof is such a beautiful, touching and funny play,” says Burgess. ” It’s a wonderful cast of talented, kind, non ego driven actors who are working so masterfully under the keen eye of director Emily O’Brien-Brown to bring these characters to the life they deserve. It’s a great night at the theatre, supporting a new independent theatre company that is committed to telling intelligent and compelling stories.”
Burgess has a long list of credits to her name as well as a wealth of training so comes to the production rich with experience. She has spent time at the Lee Strasberg Institute of Theatre and Film as well as the Actor’s Lab here in Oz. Credits include: God of Carnage, Goodbye Miss Monroe, The 39 Steps and The Producers to name but a few. Her Melody in Bad Jews is multi-layered, complex and fun. She is an actor who loves her craft and the characters she plays. Claire, she says, is a truly beautiful role. I’m very lucky to get to discover her.
June 9 – 19