Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Crucible -- Hartford Stage

Ron Crawford, Michael Laurence, Joseph M. Kornfeld, Kate Forbes, David Barlow. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The Crucible
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Gordon Edelstein

Summary:
Salem's Puritanical preacher Samuel Parris (Tom Beckett) discovers his daughter Betty (Lilli Jacobs), his niece Abigail (Rachel Mewbron) and some of their friends dancing wildly -- an even naked-- by moonlight in the woods while his slave Tituba (C. Zakiah Barksdale) conjures spirits of the dead. Betty has been acting oddly ever since, in a strange state of sleep when she isn't trying to fly. Parris summons an authority on the devil, Rev. Hale (David Barlow) to examine what might be behind the strange occurrences. Suddenly the townsfolk are throwing accusations of witchcraft at each other. John and Elizabeth Proctor (Michael Laurence and Kate Forbes) find themselves at the center of witch trials, thanks to the testimony of a vegeful Abigail, turned out of the Proctor's home after she seduces John. It's a study of paranoia, mob mentality and how quickly members of society can turn on others.

Highlights:
--Terrific performances with lots of depth from Laurence and Barlow.  Strong performances from the principals all around.
--A shocking and exciting dance-in-the-woods scene from set designer Eugene Lee. If you are wondering whether you need to see another version of The Crucible, this set treatment is the "yes" answer.
-Creepy, mood-enhancing original music and sound design by John Gromada (he really is tops in this field).

Lowlights:
--Costumes (Ilona Somogyi) and props that depict a more modern era, maybe the 1920s/'30s instead of the period of the Salem witch trials.
--Edelstein's misplaced anti-George W. Bush statement with the words "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" emblazoned on the wall over the trial. The play, after all, was a reflection of  anti-Communist paranoia, and McCarthyism in the 1953 culture when the very good play was written. A statement by a president going to war 10 years ago after the worst attack on American soil isn't quite a fitting match, whether you're a supporter of the war decision or not. If the idea was to force the link between the witch trial and modern culture, a more accurate statement might have been "If you aren't for Obama you are a racist, or teabagger, or SOB," -- or fill in the blank with any number of hate-filled statements against the right as recently reported in the media. The best approach probably would have been to let the play speak for itself and allow an intelligent audience to draw its own comparisons.

More information:
The Crucible has been extended through Oct. 6. Tickets can be purchased by calling 860-527-5151 or by visiting hartfordstage.org.

1 comment:

artistcon3 said...

Poor right wing so abused.

I am now playing the world's smallest violin for you.

C O N N E C T I C U T
--- A R T S ---
C O N N E C T I O N

Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced
numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont
Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway
League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway
run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill
Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/. She
is editor of The award-winning Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com),

She is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Contributing Editor for BroadwayWorld.com, Connecticut theater editor
for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer and writer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented
by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts,
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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