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Proof

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  15,729 ratings  ·  369 reviews
Proof is the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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 years caring for her father, Robert, a brilliant mathematician in his youth who was later unable to function
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Paperback, 96 pages
Published March 5th 2001 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2000)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,729 ratings  ·  369 reviews


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Calista
I loved this. The writing was so clear and succinct. No wasted words or emotions. It felt like a clock with each part there that needed to be working together in harmony. I have heard of this for years and I'm so glad I went ahead and read it. I love to read a play now and again. It is rewarding.

Catherine is turning 25 and her father has died. She has been taking care of him the past 4 years. Her father is a famous mathematician who wrote several famous renown proofs and a student of his is
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Paul
Oct 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
How did this win the pulitzer? Just another of those sloan foundation plays that deftly weave esoteric, intellectual ideas into the narrative in a particularly lame attempt to make the audience feel good about their intelligence. The characters are shallow and I don't really care whether or not she wrote the freaking proof! And why should I? The self-deprecating, emo little floozy couldn't extract sympathy from a potato (which is obviously the most sympathetic of all edible things in the ...more
Catherine ♡
(Read for school.)

This is definitely one of my favorites! The line between fiction and reality was blurred, and I absolutely love how ambiguous things were - it lets us use our imagination.
Mary Slowik
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Realists
Shelves: borrowed, drama
December of Drama 2015, day twenty

"Every morning there are mountains to climb,
Taking all my time.
When I get up this is what I see:
Welcome to reality.
"
--Realiti, by Grimes

Solid. Am I spoiling myself by continuing to pick Pulitzer Prize winners to read? Probably. In any event, this isn't quite as heavy as Doubt, which I just read, but it is heady. Yet it doesn't get bogged down in the mathematics, as you might expect from the synopsis. It's intelligent, but, intelligently, more about the
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Liz Janet
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This play follows Catherine, who as been caring for her ill genius mathematician father. But he is dead now, and her sister Claire and a former student, Hal, of her father has come, with the hopes of discovering something genius between the scrabbles. But Catherine has inherited some of her father brilliance, as well as his insanity. Soon Hal and Catherine begin something, but how will it end? If you do not wish to read this awesomeness, there is a film released in 2005 that was great as well.

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Cheri
Aug 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama-american
I always think that when you read a play it shouldn't be a great read, because so much room should be left to the actors and directors that it feels a little empty. When I read Proof, I really enjoyed it, and true to form when I saw the play performed, it seemed a little flat. It's so nicely written, but it the end, I just didn't feel like it was saying much. Also, there is little actual mathematics in the play, which made the premise that these were actual mathematicians feel forced. ...more
Paula
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm not generally a fan of scripts, so I was really surprised when I realized I was actually enjoying this. It somehow managed to overcome the emptiness that theater and its lack of narration tends to suffer from on the page.
Loved the characters.
Loved the dialogue.
Loved the math background.
I'm excited to watch the movie and, hopefully, the actual play acted out sometime. :)
Lauren
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is a truly fantastic play. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, this is one of those works of art that makes me appreciate why we give awards for something as subjective as the creative arts. The play explores the themes of love, madness, and genius through Catherine, the younger daughter of recently deceased mathematician, who was brilliant but mentally ill. The play has a timeless quality that strengthens Mr. Auburn’s ability to craft a compelling story that is specific but ...more
Kate
I've never seen the film, and I don't think I will simply because I cannot imagine it will do justice to this play, and I have a deep-seeded dislike of Gwyneth Paltrow. Nonetheless, I've always thought the premise sounded interesting, so I decided to pick up the original. I'm so glad I did.

I don't know why I haven't read more plays. This is only the third play I've read outside of high school that isn't Shakespeare, and I've loved all three of them. It makes me wonder why I was so dead-set
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Kenya Wright
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I haven't read a play in a long time.

This one was fun and just kept me turning the pages. The heroine , Catherine, was so perfect and captivating to me. She dealt with real pain and just had me rooting for her the entire story. I loved Hal. I love Claire.

And the scenes with Catherine and her father made me wish I was right in the audience watching this be performed.

This is a play that could make you cry. Bravo!
Wendy Lu
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
the english teachers for the senior class are fantastic. proof was amazing. i loved that it was such a tightly written play, four characters and half of them female (as in life, take a note, entertainment industry), the exploration of trust and love and the relationship between mental illness and creativity). i loved that effortless plot twist, so early on. i loved the descriptions of the world of academia and the insecurity of intellectuals and yayyy
Keith Moser
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, plays
Reread this because a local theatre is producing it in a few months. Haven't read it since college (where I did a report on it and a bunch of other math plays/movies) but always knew it was one of my favorites.

After a quick read today, I realize I should have been more on the lookout for this production a decade ago. At 34, I maybe could play Hal, but it would have been a lot easier ten years ago.

The play is written so damn well (I guess those Pulitzer people know what they're doing) and it's
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Bianka Janaqi
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In Proof: A Play, the author, David Auburn, tells the story of a young woman that explores her fathers work of mathematics to an even deeper understanding then she already knew of. Her fathers death causes a great toll on her state being but along with her fathers former student they uncover a secret in the notebooks he wrote. The main investigation that takes place in the story is how Catherine and Hal try to overcome their own obstacles as they try to discover the deep-rooted secrets Catherine ...more
Emmy
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is difficult to think of schoolwork when one is on vacation. Especially math… At least for me since it is not my favorite subject. Yet, I must admit that I found the reading I chose quite interesting and intriguing.
Not knowing what to expect from the assigned integrated science and math booklist I blindly picked Proof, A Play, written by David Auburn. The book is about an adolescent named Catherine who struggles with many issues created by the death of her father, Robert. Robert, a renowned
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Daniel
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised, but I enjoyed this play more than I thought I would. I expected it to be a bit dry, but it was actually quite lively and the relationships were well-defined (though I did feel that there was a certain leap to affection that was a bit rushed).

A minimal cast and a well-crafted tale brought this story to life. I would like to have seen it done. I will admit to wondering, even upon finishing, whether or not the young woman actually wrote the proof or not. Why
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Don Gagnon
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The four characters in the play are well developed and the plot is interesting. The main character, Catherine, is a lively young woman who—having taken care of her mathematically gifted and mentally challenged father, Robert, recently deceased and appearing as a ghost or hallucination and during flashbacks—might have inherited both her father’s genius and his instability. For a while, Auburn kept me guessing whether Catherine had or hadn’t. Robert’s former graduate student Hal who becomes ...more
Gorfo
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays, realistic
Proof was perhaps a complex play, whose message was lost on me. Perhaps there was no message, perhaps it was a feminist novel, perhaps it was about injustice of some sort. Most literature is about some sort of injustice. If it's about anything it's probably about fear and speculation, fear of aging, fear that you will never be successful in creating something that is beautiful and elegant and permanent all at once. Fear that when you die you won't even leave behind proof that you ever existed.
Amanda Mic Perkins
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a really cool play. I love the story and characters, and it all seems to flow together really well after the flashbacks.
04shelbyr
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This play struck me as a modern tragedy, to be honest. All tragedies have a tragic hero, which in this play would be Catherine, in my opinion. Catherine would be the tragic hero because she has spent many years taking care of her unstable father. Her father wouldn’t need taking care of if he wasn’t unstable due to mathematics. The author tells Catherine’s story by giving very little detail to what they are doing/talking about. Sometimes you get a full explanation as to what Catherine is talking ...more
Kyle
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
One of the best plays I have read in a long time.

It would certainly present some technical challenges in its production elements, especially in the way that it moves back in forth through time and also in between seasons (you would have to convincingly go from summer-now to winter-three-years-ago in a matter of seconds). Also, depending on the audience, the fact that this is a story with mathematics as its central theme may present an issue for some companies.

It is a strongly written script
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kthread
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
"Proof" is ideal for the witching hours of the night, when you cannot sleep, idly flip television channels to idly flip television channels, and then toss the remote / click the laptop shut and wonder if you might be crazy.

Incidentally, that's where Auburn's play begins, and we are ushered into what I'd call Second City Gothic (sister to the Southern Gothic subgenre): a big, drafty Chicago house looms, complete with a clanking radiator, absent mother, ghost, tortured heroine wearing a key
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Fahimeh
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2000, drama
One of my flaws is not spending time on reading plays, a flaw I realized while reading Proof by David Auburn. This is a play about a mathematician prodigy who deals with "A Beautiful Mind" of her father by taking care of him for years as he lost his grip on sanity and consequently his academic life. I like how Auburn plays with time and blurs the boundaries between the past and the present. I also like the way he creates a character who tries to distance herself and her future from her father to ...more
Reed LeFevre
This is a play that is full of emotion that really allows for a deep connection to the characters. I enjoyed reading this book but I though that the plot of the story was a little bit hollow. The issue that the characters had to deal with seemed like it could have been solved in a shorter more logical manner. I guess if they were to solve their problem like that you couldn't call it drama! It could also be that this is meant to be performed rather than read. Those are the reasons that I gave ...more
Matt Chan
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A compelling play about mental health, prejudice against women and youth, as well as family dynamics. There is some light commentary (I might be reading too much into it) about academia, especially in STEM field (mathematics, specifically), on expectations and perceptions. I think the characters are all very sympathetic, even Claire (the "well"-intentioned but basically ineffectively older sister) who tried to do the right thing for Catherine (and perhaps to Robert too) but ultimately cannot (or ...more
Megan Huggins
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
This is a play I'm going to have to investigate more to fully understand, but I really enjoyed it and it's very well written. Everything ties together nicely, but I was still left wondering if things would work out. I'm actually doing a scene from this play for one of my acting classes, so I'm really excited to get to play around with it and see what I can discover.
Dalissa Goodwin
In this play, Proof, the author is telling a story of a woman who took care of her father, who was unstable, but he was also a genius in mathematics. Catherine, the main character, was afraid of turning out like her father who was, she thought, insane; but he was brilliant. Over time, through the play, there are flashbacks of the times when she took care of her father, before he passed away. Catherine would work on some math in the middle of the night when her father was asleep, because she ...more
Alex Tell
Mar 14, 2008 rated it liked it
"Proof" is a contemporary play by David Auburn. I saw the movie version of "Proof" last year, and enjoyed it. I read the play on recommendation from a teacher. The play tells the story of Catherine, a woman struggling after her genius father's death. Catherine forgoes her opportunity to study mathematics at a premier university in order to take care of her aging father; flashbacks of Catherine's life caring for her father are dispersed throughout the play. The basis of the play is a mathematical ...more
Brooke
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays, contemporary
I have both read this play and seen it performed multiple times. While I typically hate reading plays (because they are meant to be watched, not read, dammit!) I actually much preferred my experience reading the play to my experience watching it. The play read almost like a novel, granted a pointless, excessively wordy novel, which is unusual for plays. Watching the play, though, was torture. The constant monologs never seemed to end, the mood swings were difficult to keep up with, and the ...more
Sr3yas
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer, play
Genius is one of the many forms of insanity
-cesare lombroso


This quick, character driven play is quite interesting read. it revolves around the daughter who stays back to take care of brilliant mathematician who went...well,insane (Remember beautiful mind ?). The relationship between father and daughter and the two sisters are portrayed beautifully.

The name "proof" and and how it becomes a recurrent theme (view spoiler)
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Sommer Ann McCullough
Sep 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fascinating piece of theatre that delves into the world of math and insanity. A lovely movie adaptation with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, truly spellbinding. And, set in Chicago, what isn't to love? A play that will truly keep you thinking about its characters and what it means to be sane.
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