Now at Antaeus Theater, The Crucible continues to strike a cord. Storytelling at its best – the timeless epistle of extremism was so disturbing in its reflection of our own time of tea partiers, mass murders, weapons of mass destruction and general mayhem. Go out of your way to catch this excellent production playing Thursday through Saturday, 8 pm Saturday & Sunday, 2pm through July 7th, 2013.
Arthur Miller’s parable draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch trials of 1692 and subsequent generations of American mass hysteria – up to the present. Through this savage tale of one small community’s too effortless descent into superstition and paranoia, Miller explores in frightening detail what can happen when fear clouds fact and blame replaces reason.
Well worth the trip …
I attended last Saturday’s performance, June 8, due in part because one of the cast members, John Allee who plays a leading character Rev. Samuel Parris, is a neighbor. He’d had an open house a few weeks ago where many of the cast were present. After spending a lovely Southern California spring afternoon with this creative group where “The Play” was a constant topic of conversation – they were either in “The Play,” were a partner of someone in “The Play,” knew someone in “The Play” or had seen “The Play.” After I was clued in to what specifically “The Play” was, I was determined to find out what the buzz was about. Have no doubt this soiree hosted by John and his wife, Kathleen, a yoga teacher among her other pursuits, was also attended by yogis, writers, musicians, gardeners, artists, and various and sundry neighbors. But the buzz was definitely about “The Crucible.”
Joined by a troupe of neighbors from the West Valley creative soup, we embarked on our adventure to No Ho to the intimate but adequate Antaeus Theater. It was a terrific production with minimal staging that allowed the audience to focus on the dramatic action on stage. And dramatic it was. I was mesmerized from the beginning of the players entrance on the starkly set stage. John’s immediate intensity as the arch conservative Rev. Parris set the tone that delivered without mercy. Each actor held the stage with such command and presence I hesitate to single any particular one out and not to justice to all. No slouching on delivery, impact and presence. Not being a theater expert, I don’t know what it’s called, but much of the story was directed out to the audience, as if we were the jury and witnesses, while many of the players also remained on stage recalling a Greek chorus. It took me a while to get used to this direct delivery where the characters mostly faced away from each other and toward the audience. But the power became forcefully apparent, giving little room for pulling back from the action and the audiences own collusion in the proceedings.
The story that began with Rev. Parris witnessing his young ward and friends dancing in the woods plays out with inevitable but unexpected pathos. I wanted to just wring the ring leader, Abigail, by the neck myself. The possessed girls were transformed into wailing specters before our eyes. And the sympathetic but pitiable Bo Foxworth as John Proctor who falls prey to his own weakness and Abigail’s beguiling charms bookends the tragedy with an exhausting wrestle with the meaning of truth. I turned away stunned by the familiar and frightening ease with which the ridiculous became the rule as character after character fell sway to their own moral wrestling match.
My applause to the entire cast and crew that marches this out for the love of theater and all that it does to beguile us into waking from our slumber of complacency. Meeting the cast later in the library, I quipped to Bo, “That was fun!’ “FUN?” he said. “Well, I mean, coming here was fun, but I’ll be having nightmares for a week! That was necessarily terrifying. And incredibly well done. My thanks to all of you for your artistry.”
Get thee to the THEATER! Buy Tickets
Thursday through Saturday, 8 pm Saturday & Sunday, 2pm Through July 7th, 2013