The cast of Thomas Jefferson's "The Crucible" gave a spellbinding performance that left the audience gasping from its intensity. This historical drama about the 1692 Salem witch trials, written by Arthur Miller during the height of the McCarthy anti-communist era, highlighted the talents of its lead performers, as well as those of the supporting cast.
The play centers on the stoic John Proctor, who has had an affair with Abigail, the niece of the local church's minister. When John refuses to leave his wife Elizabeth for Abigail, Abigail accuses Elizabeth and other villagers of witchery. In his role as John Proctor, Zach Fithian displayed a masterful understanding of the nuances of his character; progressing from a sensible man who can see the absurdity of the situation to a prisoner desperate to save his reputation, Fithian captured the essence of a man fighting a losing battle against evil and mass hysteria. The chemistry between his character and Charlene Mangi's Abigail Williams was palpable during their scenes together.
As Proctor's wife Elizabeth, Courtney Soderberg displayed a quiet sense of strength, breaking down only when her husband is about to be sent to the gallows. Other strong performers included Max Schneller in his role as the Rev. John Hale, whose participation in the trials is against his better moral judgment; and David Blore as Governor Danforth, the chief justice in the trials. Blore gave a sense of age to his character that was sometimes lacking from other performers, and his emotional range was evident. Jackie Bello and Ross Goodwin as the accused witch Sarah Good and the long-suffering Francis Nurse demonstrated masterful characterization in their all-too-brief cameos.
The technical aspects of the show sparkled; simple sets and the use of a mist machine conveyed a sense of unreality that matched the absurdity surrounding the witch trials. Scene changes, although occasionally lasting too long, were carried out in near-silence. Overall, the technical aspects of the production were very basic, allowing the audience to focus their attention on the strong performances of the actors. The incredible energy of each performer, as well as the effort each had made at characterization, made this a truly unforgettable show that should not be missed.
The Critics and Awards Program — Cappies — provides reviews and awards for high school theater productions.