Review "The Crucible": Heats Up Pure Gold!

Infamous Commonwealth Theatre

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The Crucible
At the Raven Theatre Complex
6157 N. Clark Street
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Chris Maher
Thru April 25th
Call 312.458.9780 or email info@infamouscommonwealth.org to reserve your tickets.

Running Time:  Two hours and forty minutes includes a ten minute intermission.

The devil made me to do it.  I was possessed at the time.  Michelle McGee is a witch and cast a spell on me.  In 1692, bad behavior was excused by pleading guilty by reason of witchery.  Infamous Commonwealth Theatre  presents The Crucible as part of their 'one season, one topic, endless possibilities' initiative.  This year's focus is redemption.  In 1953, playwright Arthur Miller penned a Tony Award-winning tale using the historic Salem witch trials as a modern day allegory to the government's communist hunt.  A group of girls are caught dancing.  Instead of admitting to that puritanical crime, these original 'mean girls' fake demon possession and blame the witches.  Who are the witches?  The girls name names.  They create their vengeance list of townspeople to be hanged.   From Reverend Parris' initial prayer to Goodie Proctor's closing benediction, this production of The Crucible is a gift of redemption.  

The acting is bewitching.  Director Chris Maher works his black magic to elicit authentic portrayals of religious fervor and superstitious chaos.  Maher effectively transports the audience back in time with an intimate historical depiction.  The enormous cast must have sold their collective souls to the devil to melt into such a cohesive ensemble. Nancy Friedrich (Mary Warren) is outstanding as a simpleton struggling with being good and being popular.   Elaine Ivy Harris (Abigail Williams) spearheads the nasty and deadly prank with malice that is slap worthy.  Ranging from cocky to remorseful to desperate to martyr, Craig C. Thompson (John Proctor) is the victim of a teenage fatal attraction.  Jennifer Matthews (Elizabeth Proctor) is haunting with vacant eyes and a self-denying love.  Trying to dam the damned, Cody Proctor (Reverend Hale) regrets his zealous hunt that leads to serial killings.  Weasel-like, Stephen Dunn (Reverend Parris) is the fast talking, self absorbed man of the cloth.  Edward Kuffert (Judge Danforth) exudes sensible authority despite the lunacy of proof and charges.   John Ruhaak (Giles Corey)'s confusion over accidently accusing his wife of sorcery has empathetic charm.  The entire cast, individually and communally, have the malleability to create solid brilliance in The Crucible.

Witch and communist hunts are similar moments of deplorable United States history.   In the height of the 'red scare', Playwright Arthur Miller brought the subject to stage thinly veiled by centuries.  It's a unique and bold decision by a writer.  On my 'one playwright, one weekend' initiative as illustrated by Infamous Commonwealth Theatre, Arthur Miller has redeemed himself to me in The Crucible.

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