The Crucible – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Throughout history, men and women have turned on their neighbors, accusing them in the name of religion or political expediency, labeling them as traitors, communists, enemies of the state and even, in rare instances, as witches. Prompted by fear, these accusations have changed lives and ruined reputations, even if they are groundless and ultimately proven untrue.

Playwright Arthur Miller crafted a classic drama in 1953 that reflected an allegory on what he was himself experiencing in Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch hunt” to expose communists in his hearings on the Committee for Un-American Activities. Miller refused to name names when interrogated. He sets his play “The Crucible” in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692 and 1693 when hysteria has overtaken the town of Salem and a bevy of young girls start hurling accusations at their neighbors like bolts of lightning across the Salem skies. “The Crucible” courtesy of the Connecticut Repertory Theatre will ignite the Nafe Katter Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut in Storrs until Sunday, March 4th. Do not miss this explosive and well acted drama.

The sanctimonious Reverend Parris (Rob Barnes) witnesses his daughter Betty (Gillian Rae Pardi) and niece Abigail (Rebekah Santiago Berger) dancing in the woods with other females, some possibly naked, along with his slave Tituba (Angela Hunt) who comes from Barbados. Now Betty lies in her bed unconscious and the worried father has summoned Reverend Hale (Tristan Rewald) who has knowledge of the religion, medicine and the occult to come to help.

To protect themselves from being accused of witchcraft, the girls concoct a list of witches including god-fearing women like the well-respected Rebecca Nurse (Elizabeth Jebran). A local farmer John Proctor (Mauricio Miranda) and his wife Elizabeth (Erin Cessa) find themselves caught in the web of suspicion, especially when their housemaid Mary Warren (Carly Polistina) changes her testimony before the powerful court led by Judge Danforth, a domineering and righteous for justice James Sutorius.

When the fate of John Proctor and many others like Giles Corey (Michael Rudko) hinges on their confessions of witchcraft to save their necks from the hanging rope, the question of the value of a good name becomes paramount. Paul Mullins directs this riveting almost three-hour theatrical event.

For tickets ($10 students -$33), call 860-486-2113 or online at crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., with matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.On Wednesday, February 28th, a dinner Dine with Design will be held pre-show with members of the creative team. Talk backs with cast and crew will occur on Thursday and Saturday matinee.

Vigilance is always necessary to guard against rumors and lies invading minds, causing the persecution of the innocent when evil rears its ugly head. How timely and relevant is this play where lies and finger pointing, fear and suspicions run like a wildfire to inflame and incite. Where does the truth live and what is fake news meant to distort?

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