In this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play, a troubled young woman has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable mathematician father. Following his death, she must deal with her own volatile emotions and sanity; the arrival of her estranged sister; and the attentions of her father’s former student, who hopes to find valuable work in the notebooks that her father left behind.
HAROLD DOBBS – MALE LEAD Late 20s/early 30s
Hal was one of Robert’s last graduate students before he became too ill to teach, and Hal still worships the man’s brilliance. He has come to his former professor’s house in the hopes of discovering brilliant new work. Hal and Catherine have had some level of romantic tension since the moment they met, but it is difficult to penetrate Catherine’s hostile exterior, and charming Hal waffles about whether it’s worth it. He likes to be laid back, but is an extremely dedicated and passionate student. Hal knows that despite his strong work ethic and his passion for math, he is not anywhere near as brilliant as the professors he worships. As a graduate student, he is thoroughly unexceptional.
CLAIRE - FEMALE SUPPORTING. Late 20s/30s
Catherine’s older sister. She has escaped her family’s world of academia and freezing Chicago winters, and is living a socially well-adjusted life in New York -- with a little too much deliberateness to the endeavor. She takes great care to make sure that her life feels “put-together.” She is a woman who likes things to run smoothly and likes to be in control. She’s avoided her father’s home for quite some time -- but has been financially supporting her sister and father while he was sick. Now, she has swooped in to take on the responsibilities of her father's estate and is spearheading his funeral arrangements, while Catherine holes up - useless - at home. Claire’s absence has complicated her relationship with her sister. Still, it is clear they love each other and want what they think is best for the other.
ROBERT – SUPPORTING MALE LEAD 50s-70s
Robert has died when the play opens, but he is a presence throughout the play: both as a product of Catherine’s imagination and in flashbacks. None of the other characters besides Catherine can see him. Robert was a brilliant man who couldn’t hold onto his wits. Early on, he worked as a professor at University of Chicago and did groundbreaking work in the field of mathematics. He had a distinguished career even as a young man in his 20s -- but his final years were plagued by mental illness. By the end of his life, he thought aliens were sending him messages through the Dewey Decimal numbers on library books, and he was trying to work out the code. He has a deep love for Catherine and sees himself in her. He also admires her brilliance, and her bravery and generosity in caring for him when he couldn’t care for himself or for her.
THE ROLE OF CATHERINE HAS ALREADY BEEN CAST.