The Placer Performance Calendar

 

Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The Crucible
Organization William Jessup University, Creative Arts Department
Date(s) of show October 30-November 8, 2015
Reviewer Letha Dawson
Review

If youíre interested in Christian beliefs, early, early Christian beliefs, this historical play, The Crucible, by one of Americaís best playwrights, Arthur Miller, is must-see.  You will be transported back to Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1692, to a village of devout Christians, practicing their faith as they see best when faced with the possibility that some of their teenage girls have been dancing in the woods, and possibly communing with spirits, non-Christian spirits.  Arthur Miller, the most skillful of playwrights, brings the righteousness of the people and the church leaders under a microscope to be examined. 

This is not a short, one-act play, so be prepared for a full evening of thoughtful, frightening, powerful, riveting acting from a large cast.    Running almost three hours including one intermission, you will be relieved to re-enter the present century.   The Crucible is a cauldron of dialogue, and the grammar of the dialogue captures the way people spoke in 1692.  To say the actors did a fine job doesnít give them enough credit.  Many of the lead actors, (in order of appearance) Jake Bennett, Allison Coupe, Morgan Mena, Cameron Wells, T.J. Ganser, Rebekah Ayala, and  Andy McCollum, memorized and delivered hundreds of lines with vigor, extreme agitation, and energy.  There is a lot of pushing and pulling and intense grabbing between intense characters which looks so real I was convinced some actors went home with bruises.   

The set, a simple fort-like fence, is effective, with bare trees behind, symbolizing the forest where danger and spirits lurk to ruin young lives.  The raised apron stage jutting into the theatre, brings the action right to the lap of the audience.  Unfortunately, the stage blocking often placed the lead actors with their backs to the audience delivering their lines to actors standing in the rear stage area.  This placement, along with the affected old-American grammar, made some of the dialogue difficult to hear and understand.  However, the actors did a superb job of speaking out and projecting.  Even without understanding every word, the action told the story.  When you see a young girl lying in bed and in the next moment being furiously shaken, one doesnít need dialogue to get the gist of whatís going on.  When two grown men clash and one throws the other to the ground and you hear the body hit the stage, you donít need to depend on dialogue.  When young women are dancing and screaming and giggling with delight, you donít need dialogue.  So this rendition of Arthur Millerís The Crucible is palpable.

Special mention must be given to Cameron Wells, who played John Proctor.  Cameron expressed the pride of the family man, changed to the stalwart moral man walking the righteous path, changed again with outrage of a wrongly accused citizen fighting the deaf and blind law, and finally to the condemned man facing a noose.  Excellent performance from Cameron Wells.  Morgan Mena, Jacquie McCourt, T.J. Ganser, and Andy McCollum all deserve accolades.  The lighting and music at the end of the play with the gallows on stage was chilling.  All in all, a scary night of theatre. 

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