Proof is arguably worthy of the Pulitzer Prize it scooped in 2001. It has multiple themes and layers and all that - the "proof" of the title refers to: the physical draft of a major mathematical theorem; the proof of its authorship, which comes into doubt as part of the plot; one woman's need for proof that having inherited her father's genius she has not also inherited his insanity; plus her need for her lover to prove he trusts her. And the play has flashback scenes, which suggests complexity.
Yet playwright David Auburn has a tendency to spoon-feed - in which cases the actors are made to be spoons. Here are Catherine and Harold, discussing her father Robert, the maths genius.
Catherine: "He was a graphomaniac, Harold. Do you know what that is?"
Harold: "Yes [but the audience mightn't, so I will tell you]. He wrote compulsively."
We receive a condensed biography of a dead French mathematician in a similarly clunky way.
Elsewhere, however, Auburn smoothly and entertainingly provides insights into the lives of these racy math types, as when Harold describes 48-hour problem-solving orgies fuelled by alcohol and amphetamines. For the most part, too, Auburn's characters seem to lend themselves to nuanced interpretation.
So what does the Globe production do with the material? Well, often during their performance of Proof the actors seem as if someone has stuck a pistol at them and cried: "Stand and deliver!"
A pity it was not "Move around and deliver!" or "Move around and discover!"
The yard of a charming weatherboard house, as created by Andrew Cook, spends much of its time looking hopeful of some action. Both vocally and bodily, too many opportunities are wasted to juice the script.
The players do have flashes of brilliance, though. Brian Kilkelly, as Robert, goes from sounding inappropriately incredulous throughout his Act 1 appearance to credibly building towards, and then having, a powerful, howling mental breakdown in Act 2. It feels like the more demanding the part becomes, the better his response - proving Kilkelly can rise to a challenge.
Andrew Morrison is an experienced and talented director, and he should perhaps have given more guidance to his young lead, Sarah Paterson. She struggles to bring enough maturity to the troubled Catherine, being too much sulky teenager, not enough brooding 25-year-old genius, but is more convincing on the daughter-caregiver front.
As Catherine's boyfriend and Robert's protégé, Harold (Hal), Chris Hopkins is consistent and believable in his role, but again unimaginative in his movement.
Angela Thomsen is assured and appealing as Claire, Catherine's glossy older sister, who, unlike the other three characters, is not a maths whiz but merely maths average. Claire exists partly for comic relief - and it is indeed a relief to have Thomsen as a part of this sum.