Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured) makes her West End stage debut tonight, 15 May 2002 (previews from 9 May), in the UK premiere of David Auburn's Tony Award-winning Proof. The play runs for a strictly limited engagement to 15 June 2002 at the Donmar Warehouse as part of the theatre's annual American Imports season.

One of the hottest tickets this season, the entire Donmar run of Proof sold out months ago. Queues have been forming daily outside the Covent Garden-based venue where 14 remaining standing places are held back for each performance. (The box office for standing places - as well as any returns - opens each day at 10.30am. Tickets are payable in cash only and limited to two per person.)

Proof reunites Paltrow with film director John Madden who worked with the actress on the 1998 blockbuster Shakespeare in Love, for which she won an Oscar for her performance as young Shakespeare's fictional romantic interest Viola. After the Donmar run, Paltrow and Madden will begin work on a film version of the drama for Miramax, which was also behind Shakespeare in Love.

In Proof, Paltrow plays Catherine, who has sacrificed her youth to care for her father, a mathematical genius, during the worst of his mental degeneration. His legacy is a series of inspirational formulae that can only be unlocked by a mind as brilliant as his. The play maps Catherine's struggle to determine how much of her father's genius or madness she has inherited and who, if anyone, she can trust with the answer.

Coming from a showbiz family, Paltrow made her acting debut on stage but has not trod the boards since appearing with her mother Blythe Danner in a Williamstown, Massachusetts production of The Seagull eight years ago. Since then, her many screen credits have included The Talented Mr Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums, A Perfect Murder, Great Expectations, Bounce, Duets, Shallow Hal, Emma, Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in Love.

In the Donmar run of Proof, she'll appear alongside Britons Ronald Pickup, Richard Coyle and Sara Stewart. On Broadway, where Auburn's play opened in October 2002 and has starred fellow American film actresses Mary Louise Parker and Jennifer Jason Leigh, it has earned no fewer than 11 major awards, not least the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and three Tonys, including Best Play.

- by Terri Paddock