By Madeline Delorie
In 1953, Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible as an allegory for the McCarthyism which was sweeping the country at the time. The Tony award winning play became destined to become an American classic. With repeated productions on Broadway and regular treatment in the classroom, The Crucible is a play that has withstood the test of time. This season, The Island Theater produced the show in a similarly tumultuous political landscape.
The play is originally set in 1692 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony In the house of Reverend Samuel Parris (portrayed by Solomon Greene). Betty Parris (played by Jillian McKinney) and several of the town’s young women have fallen ill and rumors of witchcraft being the cause start.
Against the advice of the town motherly figure Rebecca Nurse (played by Shelley Finn), Reverend Hale (played with intensity by Mitchell Hale) of Beverly is sent for to investigate the cause and through a series of twists and turns, some of the most notable people in town are accused and put on trial for witchcraft.
The Island Theater’s production starts in 1692 as originally intended and then takes a unique turn as the scenes progress. The characters and dialogue stays the same but the time periods shift through the use of costumes and set to reflect how the same issues of hysteria and mob rule have repeated over time. It takes a thoughtful audience to keep pace with the story but through the use of the program and unique lighting and set design the journey is worth it.
The cast is dynamic and nuanced as the characters on stage. John Proctor (played by the talented Rich Pintello) is a flawed man. Rich Pintello makes him sympathetic even in the realization that his faults lie at the root of the deception of the villains of the piece. His relationship on stage with both former lover, Abigail Williams (Asia Kravats), and his wife, Elizabeth (Erica Villenueva), is both realistic and dramatic at the same time. Erica Vilenueva and Rick Pintello have such a natural chemistry – their scenes seem to be reenactments of actual conversations versus scripted lines.
While the cast works well together on stage, the transformation of Solomone Greene and Mitchell Wohl from self assured Reverends of the community of note to men barely holding on by the end of the play is one worth watching from their words, costume changes to the mere facial expressions the two actors used when faced with reality.
Equally notable newcomer Kellyanne Correale renders a noteworthy performance as Mary Warren, the girl torn between what is right and what will keep her safe in this dangerous world. Ms. Correale gives a multi-faceted performance as she is questioned and bullied by all sides, torn down by the merciless Ms. Hawthorne (played with vicious vigor by Caitlin Charrier) and alternately coaxed and threatened by Governor Danforth (portrayed by Alexander Banks).
The Crucible’s cast is rounded out by Julie McKinney (mother of Jillian McKinney), Jim Warren, Lyrica Singh, Zhariya Smith, Natalie Lucas, Robert Frohlich, Clark Taylor, Rachel Taylor, Josh Katzman and feature film actor, Whit Williams.