EST's Marathon 2000
EST has traditionally offered playwrights that are both upcoming and established the opportunity to build smaller engines that might yet take audiences on far-ranging trips of imagination. Less a tradition than a pragmatic arrangement, EST also usually spreads its biggest drawing cards fairly evenly between its three different series of one-acts. For instance, Series A featured a new one-act by Leslie Ayvazian, Series B featured a new one by David Ives, and Series C was highlighted by a short piece by Warren Leight. Well-known actors are scattered more or less evenly throughout the three different series as well, making each group of plays additionally--and equally--attractive. EST also spreads the quality around; usually one or two short plays zoom, while the remainder, well, don't.
Jeff Reich's Proof (not to be confused with the play of the same name at Manhattan Theatre Club) starts off extremely well in what appears to be a monologue. An adjunct professor of neuroscience, he (Brad Bellamy) stands behind a podium lecturing a class (us). It turns out, however, that he just lost his job--and his bitter, biting remarks are also scorchingly funny. If Reich had brought the piece to an end with the lecture, it would have worked within its limited scope. Instead, he reaches (or, rather, overreaches) when he contrives a confrontation between the out-of-work professor and his mentor. Wonderful withering sarcasm gives way to clodding philosophy. Proof goes poof. The takeaway, however, is Bellamy's deeply rooted comic performance.