A Conquered ‘Crucible’

It is eerily silent in the darkened theatre and ripe goose-bumps stand erect on the cooled arms of its crowd of spectators. As nanoseconds stretch and breathing tempers, odd sounds of shuffling, sniffling are audible throughout, sparsely breaking the hushed tension in the room.

A shivering young girl, pale with a deathly tremor is aggressively asked to reprise her performance – to faint on cue and to turn her skin to ice. She cannot, she replies – it came before as an emotional resurgence prompted by the other girls. So captivated by the moment was she that she genuinely believed that she saw spirits, that she had fainted. لعبت روليت

And in her darkened foreground, a list of icy hands nervously scrunch their programs, purses, sleeves – or any other miscellaneous objects unfortunate enough to be within their reach – and can certainly relate to the young girl’s claims of emotional involvement.

Suddenly, an ardently courageous voice calls out, desperately urging her to remember her biblical lessons: That the angel Raphael said to the boy Tobias, “Do that which is good, and no harm shall come to thee.”

Unfortunately, it is advice that seems increasingly futile in the poignantly metaphorical world of “The Crucible.”

This was precisely the marvelous atmosphere that surrounded the performance of this play.

Written in 1953 as an allegorical response to the events orchestrated by the House of Un-American Activities, Arthur Miller intentionally sought to educate his surrounding countrymen about the terrors and evils of political witch-hunts. It received a lukewarm reception during its premiere, and its author was subsequently not allowed to watch the one in London the following year. In spite of – and largely due to – its controversial message, brilliant structure and inimitable characters, “The Crucible” quickly became a classic staple of American theatre. لعبة القمار ورق Surviving immeasurable stage productions and several film adaptations – one of which stars the playwright’s son-in-law, Daniel Day-Lewis, as John Proctor – it maintains its status as a colossal challenge for any director or cast. Featuring scenes that exude consistent stress and fervor, it requires constant focus and sustained ability to deliver the core of oneself. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that director Heather Siobhan Curran of the Gallery Players sought trained and experienced actors with considerable stamina for its coveted roles.

And she received them in scores.

On the twentieth of March, this American classic premiered at the Gallery Players to a full house and resounding applause.

Although in existence for 43 seasons, this iconic Brooklyn company has hitherto never faced the daunting task of presenting this particular play. That is an utter shame, especially since this initial foray into the world of McCarthyism metaphors was such a triumphant success. كيف يلعب البوكر

For those not privy to the plot, “The Crucible” takes place in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, at the time of the notorious witch-hunts and subsequent trials. Its protagonist is John Proctor (Gil Brady) – a character so richly conflicted that he is practically perfect as a fictional concoction (though hardly as a person, on whom he was loosely based). A farmer and father of three boys, John was involved in an affair with his young maid, Abigail Williams (Lindsay Mack), several months prior to the story’s start. When discovered by his then-sick wife, Elizabeth (Rhyn McLemore), he was forced to end their interaction and Abigail was immediately fired.

Abigail is not deterred, however, still possessive of a deep passion for the fun-loving farmer. As she and her friends are discovered dancing around a fire late one night, suspicions begin to arise and a tale of witchcraft is spun. Reverend John Hale (Daniel Damiano) is brought in from a neighboring county as an expert and scores of citizens are arrested.

There is a loophole, however: If the accused confesses and gives the names of others that were seen with the Devil, he or she is immediately released.

The parallels are disturbingly clear.

But an impeccably-written story is hardly sufficient for a successful show, since the notion of witnessing a play relies heavily on live performance; and, thankfully, the respective talents at the Gallery Players more than did Miller justice.

Brady was absolutely remarkable as the haunted Proctor. At first emboldened with a marvelously cocky swagger and an infectiously wry grin, he soon gave way to brooding melancholy and stubborn, tragic resolve. So captivating was Brady’s performance that – at times – it hardly felt like acting. It was almost as though the audience was fortunate enough to witness a secret event through a cleverly concealed curtain, gasping as life before it roared and consumed like a wild flame.

This was especially challenging since this particular character is one of the most difficult to justly portray in theatre, and was visibly met with sensitivity, maturity and the height of professionalism in a performance arguably almost on par with Day-Lewis. His emblazoned speech that echoes the importance of his name was enough to send tenacious shivers down even the most skeptical of spines. Bravo, Mr. Brady.

The leading ladies were quite impressive, as well.

McLemore was captivatingly serene as Proctor’s dutiful wife. The very picture of grace under pressure, she consistently cast a gentle presence on the stage. Mack was a welcome sight as well – a bold and commanding presence as the devious and scheming Abigail, she ably balanced an iron fist with a vulnerable heart.

In fact, every presence on the Park Slope stage deserved rounds of applause as the play did not contain a single weak link. The revered monologues of Miller were delivered with passion, poise and professionalism.

And as the final moments of “The Crucible” were drawn – as a stubbornly dignified Brady solemnly left the stage and McLemore resolutely delivered her character’s iconic lines – the audience’s nerves finally surrendered to a post-adrenaline calm, trembling with insatiable relief and awe. It had a mournful ending, but well-crafted art seldom leads to sadness; it inspires fascination – and the combination of Miller’s learned lines with admirable acting ability is a sure-fire formula.

Photo by Bella Muccari

About Olga Privman 132 Articles
I spent a good decade dabbling in creating metaphysically-inclined narrative fiction and a mercifully short stream of lackluster poetry. A seasoned connoisseur of college majors, I discovered journalism only recently through a mock review for my mock editor, though my respect for the field is hardly laughable. I eventually plan to teach philosophy at a university and write in my free time while traveling the world, scaling mountains and finding other, more creative ways to stimulate adrenaline. Travel journalism, incidentally, would be a dream profession. Potential employers? Feel free to ruthlessly steal me away from the site. I’ll put that overexposed Miss Brown to shame.

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