“The Crucible” Review – An Incredible Performance at Invictus Theatre

L-R: Devon Carson (Elizabeth Proctor), Mark Pracht (John Proctor) | Photo credit: Through Line Studios
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By Sarelle Caceido

Even when made to read Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, in high school – over 15 years ago, I vividly remember how intense it was, and it made an indelible mark on my mind.  I had never read a play so compelling, so full of conflict, displaying such a spectrum of human emotion  experiences, I couldn’t wait to see it on the stage. 

L-R: Frank Nall (Giles Corey), Orlon Silvertree (Francis Nurse), Jay Donley (George Herrick), Michaela Voit (Abigail Williams), Zach Bloomfield (Judge Hathorne), James Turano (Deputy Governor Danforth), Charlie Diaz (Reverend Hale), Ellie Duffey (Mary Warren), Mark Pracht (John Proctor) | Photo credit: Through Line Studios

Since then, I had only seen the story play out in the movie form, which hey, had some INCREDIBLE actors in it who went on to have significant careers (hello Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Joan Allen!) While the movie was fantastic and left me satiated, I still had yet to find a production of the play brought to the stage and craved it for years.

L-R: Lea Grace Biwer (Betty Parris), Freya Trefonides (Susanna Walcott), Lexy Weixel (Mercy Lewis U/S), Michaela Voit (Abigail Williams), Orion Silvertree (Francis Nurse), Jay Donley (George Herrick), James Turano (Deputy Governor Danforth), Brandon Boler (Ezekiel Cheever), Ellie Duffey (Mary Warren), Charlie Diaz (Reverend Hale) | Photo credit: Through Line Studios

Finally, it happened, thanks to the Invictus theater, and it did not disappoint. From the moment the audience enters the intimate performance space-which fits around 30 people and lends itself well to the high stakes of the plot, the audience is meant to feel uneasy, and it works. Set mostly in a courtroom setting, the audience is the fourth wall of the dusty, dark, wooden courtroom as if we’re the jury. The set design heightened the severity of the circumstances and truly made it feel like we were in on the conflict. The Crucible brings up so many timeless issues, that even 70 years after its inception, still feels as relevant as ever.  Power and influence, jealousy, gossip, love, honor and integrity, group think, social pressures, scapegoating and blame, are just some of the key themes that come up, to name a few. 

L-R: Mark Pracht (John Proctor), Devon Carson (Elizabeth Proctor) | Photo credit: Through Line Studios

The major external conflict in the Crucible is John Proctor trying to save his wife, Elizabeth from being hanged by the town officials for supposedly being a witch. It’s a fictional play based on the Salem witch trials which took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and tells the story of a village that becomes embroiled in a witch hunt, and ultimately, doesn’t need to. The major internal conflict is John trying to decide between saving himself and his family from being hanged, or accept the death penalty for false accusations against him. The inner turmoil John faces is so palpable that there are moments during the play that it was hard to not jump from the audience seats try not to save John from his unfortunate fate. Abigail Williams is the young lady who at first can be empathized with, but as the plot continues, it becomes abundantly clear that she is complicit with creating so much chaos.

L-R: Freya Trefonides (Susanna Walcott), Ellie Duffey (Mary Warren), Lea Grace Biwer (Betty Parris), Michaela Voit (Abigail Williams), Lexy Weixel (Mercy Lewis U/S), Mike Cherry (Thomas Putnam), Laura Coleman (Ann Putnam), Orion Silvertree (Francis Nurse) | Photo credit: Through Line Studios

The acting was superb-even when the ensemble was observing conversations between main characters, it appeared that everyone was so present and impacted by the conflict, that it was truly a community experience. The sound production was also noteworthy, as there were subtle cracking of sticks, birds chirping, and ominous chants, which created an even more eerie environment. This play cant be recommended enough, and will certainly stay with you afterwards. 

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