After a successful run in Croton Falls, New York, this intense and unflinching production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, helmed by director Pamela Moller Kareman, has relocated to the Arclight Theater. The production breathes a heady life into Miller’s classic with each production element providing a bold contribution to this compelling revival.
Reviewed by Ilena George
The Crucible explores the blurry line between what we say and what is true and how easy it can be to deceive an entire community. In contrast to the dissembling its characters engage in, the set is spare and transparent—with only the bare and weathered bones of a house visible. Between scenes, shifts from the courtroom to the Procters’ living room to the outside take place through subtle lighting changes and quick re-arrangements of a few tables while throughout the play, the rest of the village act as mute witnesses to the action, sitting on the periphery of the stage. As much as the set frames the drama and the muscular performances pump up the action, Matt Stine’s music and sound design are the heart and lungs of the play, ramping up the tension in the beginning's otherworldly dancing sequence and the inexorable finale.
From rugged John Procter (Simon MacLean)—whose rough, passionate demeanor and flawed honesty are telegraphed even in the way he wears his clothing—to the girls who hoodwink the town, The Crucible offers a slew of stand-out performances. Abigail (Sherry Stregack) is as relentless and formidable as her uncle Reverend Parris (Keith Barber) is weak and backsliding. The prickly Deputy-Governor Danforth (David Licht), one of Procter’s many adversaries, is played to fearsome perfection, an authoritarian who will not allow his decisions to be second-guessed, and one who truly believes he is doing what is best and fair.
Part of what makes the production successful is the richness of the play: Miller’s intent to decry Joe McCarthy, comparing the era of blacklisting to that of Salem’s witch trials, still resounds in our current political climate. Between the cautionary tale of what can occur when small-minded and arrogant men are in power, to the Salem court’s declaration that essentially divided the community into two groups (those who supported the trials and those who did not and were therefore suspect), The Crucible can still be read as a fearsome echo of modern America.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
The Arclight Theater
(152 West 71st St between Broadway and Columbus)
Tickets: theatermania.com or (212) 352-3101
February 6th- March 2nd, Sun and Wed 2 pm, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm
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