Inspired by the Salem witch trials of the 1690s, The Crucible was viewed as a parable about Republican Wisconsin Senator Joseph P. McCarthy’s “Red Scare” crusade when it premiered in 1953, but the Rahway High School production of Arthur Miller’s play has a remarkable resonance in the political divisions and paranoia evident in modern society.
As Alfred Hickling so aptly stated, “In the 17th century people were terrified of witches; in the 1950s it was communists; today it’s the threat of terrorism. Indeed, you only have to substitute the phrase ‘electronic surveillance’ for every reference to witchcraft in the drama to appreciate how effectively Miller identified the tendency of society to turn on itself in response to a threat to its security.”
Joshua Huertas’ character, John Proctor, might be considered a 17th-century Edward Snowden, whose desire for transparency unleashes a disastrous reaction worse than he could possibly have imagined.
Katelynn Perez delivers a convincing performance as Abigail Williams, a Puritain orphan obsessively infatuated with the husband of Elizabeth Proctor, compelling acted by Daniela Rodriguez.
The Proctor’s current servant girl, Mary Warren, proves an unreliable witness but Hailee Ross brings authenticity to the character.
Jesse McCormick brings such overbearing pomposity to his role as Deputy Governor Danforth, who presides over the Puritan kangaroo court, and Jay’Quan Johnson infuses his character, Reverend John Hale, with enough vivid emotion that spectators might believe innocent people are about to die.
Fortunately, Director Jensyn Modero’s adaptation of the drama instead comes to life in an intimate black box theater improvised on stage in the high school’s new auditorium.
The costumes, lighting and makeup delightfully add to the marvelous acting, continuing a long tradition of excellence in performing arts.
A cooling marriage begets a boiling conspiracy that draws a married man, his wife, a malicious servant girl and an entire society into a tragic madness in the partially fictionalized dramatization of the witch trials that took place in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts.
There will be two performances today on Saturday, November 21, 2015, at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM but these are the final shows, so anyone looking for professional level entertainment at a bargain price should head over the the high school.
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