By Allison McCausland
Act One outdoes itself once again with their spring semester drama, topping last year’s “Elektra” with the tantalizing and intense Arthur Miller classic, “The Crucible.” Although rooted in the past, many of the themes and feelings resonate with audiences today, as previously discussed in the Theatre Tea Talk the department held Feb. 12.
“The Crucible” takes place during the 1690s in Salem, Massachusetts during the famous Salem Witch Trials. Local woman Abigail Williams, played by freshman Mackenzie Moyer, begins accusing other townspeople of witchcraft to cover up the local girls’ attempt to conjure a curse in the woods, and save face in front of her uncle,who is the town minister, Reverend Samuel Parris, played by junior Joey Letcher.
However, her exemployer John Proctor, played by senior Dane McMichael, begins to catch on to what Abigail is up to when his wife Elizabeth, played by senior Emilee Gubler, is arrested after one of Abigail’s accusations. Knowing that it is her attempt to rekindle the feelings they once shared, John tries to get the rest of the townspeople who have suffered together to prove the accusers wrong, thus bringing order and justice back to Salem.
The production has a standout cast, highlighting the performances of McMichael as Proctor as he strives to do what is right while also maintaining a sense of honor and piety that was seen in Puritan communities during this time. Opposite McMichael’s Proctor was the villainous Deputy Governor Danforth, played by junior James “Bo” Sayre, who will stop at nothing to maintain his domineering power over the community despite its shambling state.
Among other performances to be lauded include Moyer’s malicious Abigail, junior Nathan Borzillo’s compassionately naive Reverend John Hale and senior Michael Covel’s headstrong and comical Giles Corey.
Director Steven Dennis strikes the dramatic and powerful cords the production calls for as Miller’s stakes climb with each scene. Dennis’ achievement with this is mostly seen in the conclusion of scene one in act two during the recess of the witch trials. His direction of the actions and actors leaves audiences shaken as if the next person to be accused is among them.
What made the atmosphere even more unsettling and exhilarating was the choice of ambience and background music. Resident sound designer Elizabeth Elliott, along with student assistant Halie Smith, managed to put theater attendees on the edge of their seats without even realizing it with increased tension built up by the uneasy balance of quiet and dramatic score. Elliot’s lighting design plays into this as well as the unchanging façade of each scene.
Scenic designer Will Neurt and artistic designer Dennis Razze help convey the dark simplicity of the time period with the main set and scaffolding for the characters to play around on or blend in to depending on the flight of accusations in each scene.
Nevertheless, costume designer Deborah Burill brings the audience back to relating to the present with somewhat contemporary outfits. However, she does not shy away from a few Puritan accessories in pivotal moments to keep the illusions of Salem in the air.
All in all, the production is one that should not be missed this season. “The Crucible” runs from Feb. 22 to March 5. Tickets can be purchased at the Labuda Theater Box Office in person or by phone at 610282-3192. Tickets and show times are also available on their website, www.desales.edu/act1.