(photos by Austin M Bauman)
Written by Patrick Chavis
I’m not a stranger to the story of The Crucible, having seen theater productions and the film version before. It’s a classic for good reason. The Crucible has legs. Its story and themes are timeless. From what I’ve read, Arthur Miller, the playwright, partially wrote it in response to “McCarthyism” because many people were being blacklisted in Hollywood if they were accused of having a connection to Communism, whether it was true or not. This play is a great example of how the truth can be twisted and used for power, greed, and the destruction of people’s lives. The Maverick and a cast of veteran actors inhabit the characters and show off their long-practiced skills onstage to great effect.
The story of The Crucible is set around the 1600s during the Salem witch trials, a period in American history where people were being lynched out of the fear they were witches or possessed by the devil in some fashion. Without creating too many spoilers, here’s the broadest explanation of the story, lies, and accusations of witchcraft create a drama in a small, Massachusetts town, affecting the lives of countless people, especially the main characters in the play.
I was impressed with the acting overall. This is what I call a very straightforward version of the material. By straightforward, I mean there are no bells and whistles in this show. There’s no clever dramatic lighting or sound effects to elicit more drama. But the fundamentals for good drama were present in the story and the acting. If you’re a basketball fan, consider this is the Tim Duncan of The Crucible shows — meaning fundamentally good but not flashy.
This is only the second live show I’ve seen in over a year. I say live because I’ve continued to watch filmed and other creatively produced, but not live, theater shows over the past year. It’s nice to be back in the dark theater again. It was even nicer to see such stand-out performances in this production. I’ve never seen her at this theater before, but Samantha Green, who plays Abigail Williams, gave a phenomenal performance. I’ll tell you why. The character of Abigail Williams is a balancing act between someone who is childish, almost annoyingly so, but she’s also cunning. At the same time, the audience needs to have some understanding of why this troubled person does what she does without reducing the character to a flatly drawn troublemaker. Green’s diction and physical actions exemplified all of these traits onstage.
Spencer Douglas, who played Deputy Governor Danforth, is the character judging the various witchcraft cases in the town. Douglases’ performance is stern, authoritative and near the end, you could see his doubt over what happened written on his face without saying a single word. This is the sign of a good actor.
What a terribly difficult and frustrating art form acting can be because of all the subtle, intricacies necessary to make good drama. Fortunately, a lot of these intricacies were found in this production. It’s clear the cast and crew love the material, you can tell this show was a labor of love.
This show was sold out for most of the run and has since ended, so this is a late review. If you didn’t catch this show, OCR apologizes for not getting to this one sooner. That being said, If you did catch this show, what did you think? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments.
June 25 – August 1,2021