February 22, 2004

David Auburn

What's the Big Idea? -- When it comes to second acts, I have two words: "Our Town." I know it's now considered a quaint production, safe and sanitized and suitable for high schools and community theatre troupes throughout the country -- but at least Thorton Wilder's "Our Town" has a second act that does not merely resolve the first act's rising troubles; it lifts the play to an even higher plane, raising the stakes yet again. "Proof," alas, provides a standard-issue, let's-wrap-this-up second act that could perhaps be best summarized by a line given earlier to Hal, the ambitious graduate student: "My papers get turned down. For the right reasons -- my stuff is trivial. The big ideas aren't there."


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