“…the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies… But all organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as two objects cannot occupy the same space.
- The Crucible, Act 1 (An Overture)
In just these few words, Arthur Miller has laid the groundwork for the entire play to come. But, in fact, by substituting virtually any other geographical location in place of Salem (Hong Kong, Kashmir, the White House come to mind), the universality of Miller’s understanding of those who know better than us--forcing us to see everything their way--is crystal clear. From schoolyard bullies to autocratic despots, the world is a perpetually sadder place—especially for the “different” amongst us.
Director Jonathan Goad, his talented cast and gifted production team have crafted a production that readily makes Miller’s variety of points. From the opening scene of possession, fuelling many actual witch hunts to come (perhaps Robert Mueller’s “persecution” will turn out to be truer than anyone ever expected, if the powers that be ever find the courage to acknowledge their own demons within), to the, literally, miserable conclusion, the pacing and tone are spot-on—the only quibble being—to me—the over-the-top of the “children” as they, apparently, are filled with the Devil.
Tim Campbell is superb as the conflicted (a heady mix of sinner and saint) John Proctor: a loving man, an adulterer, one who stands on truth and principle as best he can (who amongst us can throw the first stone?).
Shannon Taylor is the ideal model of stoicism playing John’s wife, Elizabeth. Scott Wentworth turns in a finely nuanced take on the pious/conniving Reverend Parris and his accomplice from the state (Deputy Governor Danforth) is done to a “my way or the highway(=gallows)” T thanks to Wayne Best’s gritty, unflinching characterizations.
Also searing through their lines unforgettably are Maria Vacratsis as Rebecca Nurse and Rod Beattie as Francis Nurse.
By journey’s end, it is abundantly clear that there is nothing more compelling than an unseen devil to allow the few to take lives, fortune and dignity from the many, all in the name of [fill in your own blank].
It’s a production not to be missed. JWR