Review: The Crucible at Sacramento Theatre Company
In the 1950s, playwright Arthur Miller penned The Crucible as an allegory for the wave of McCarthyism that was hitting the country—the U.S. government was accusing and trying Americans who supported Communism. Set in 1692, The Crucible centers around the Salem witch trials, in which women were accused of being possessed by the devil.
Sacramento Theatre Company is staging The Crucible at another interesting time in our country’s history, which director Natasha Hause acknowledges, stating, “This may be the most timely and timeless play to direct during our current political climate.”
Little did Hause know that the opening STC weekend would happen days after the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings, adding yet another modern-day parallel to the centuries-old storyline of accusers and the accused.
The Crucible follows the story of societal suspicions and suppression when a group of teens—caught flirting with pagan rites—start finger-pointing with dire consequences. STC does not veer from the original script or production, keeping it tight and streamlined. This works overall, though at times it feels a little stilted and over-stylized, with performances varying from subtle to dramatic.
The cast does bring forth some strong performances. An admirable nod to Scott Coopwood, who had to step into the role of Deputy Governor Danforth just days before opening night. Other notable performances include James Louis Wagner as John Proctor; Shannon Mahoney as Elizabeth Proctor; Michael Jenkinson as Reverend John Hale; Eric Wheeler as Reverend Parris; and Abbey Campbell as Abigail.
The production elements are appropriately simple—plain costumes depicting the puritanical community, a minimalistic set of wooden platforms, tables and benches, birch trees lining the stage and a syncopated soundtrack which feeds the growing tension of the story.