**** One of the things proved is that Gwyneth Paltrow is a true star
The entire run is already sold out on the strength of Paltrow's name; however, you're seeing not just a star but a stellar performance.
The ostensibly simple title echoes through David Auburn's four-handed play in several directions. Paltrow plays Catherine, the daughter of a brilliant but schizophrenic mathematician, looking fearfully for evidence of whether or not she has inherited her late father's affliction. When she claims to be the author of a startling new mathematical proof, she has somehow to prove to her selfish sister and to research student Hal that the work is hers and not her father's. Ultimately, both the mathematical dispute and the emotional entanglements between Catherine and Hal are solved not by proof at all, but by its opposite, trust.
John Madden's production knows that no great theatricality is required in the Donmar's intimate 250-seat space; the biggest effects come when the set – the porch of Catherine's father's house in Chicago – rotates between scenes. Paltrow is simply magnificent, spending most of the play in shapeless, grungy clothes, in the nearest that beautiful face can get to a scowl. She manages to be annoying and lovable, whiny and endearing, at once, and underplays masterfully. It's both a delight and a privilege to see such a performance so close up.
Written for divento.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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