Review: The Crucible

The Crucible; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $12-$20. Main Street Theatre Works at Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, 1127 N. Main Street in Jackson; (209) 295-4499; Through September 9.

Talk about timely: Director Susan McCandless invokes the Salem Witch Trails—held 325 years ago—with this well-planned revival. John Proctor, a linchpin character in this play, was executed on August 19, 1692.

The real subject of this famous drama by Arthur Miller remains relevant— it shows how aggressive, bullying political leaders deliberately fan mass hysteria with baseless accusations, then run roughshod over common sense and fair legal procedures, blithely sending innocent people to jail or their death. The playwright was thinking of the demagogue Senator Joe McCarthy when he wrote this script, but the contemporary parallels are obvious. The Crucible, which won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play, never goes out of fashion, because the danger of autocratic-government-run-amok is always with us, alas.

This small-but-sturdy production by Main Street Theatre Works is staged outdoors, at night, which adds to the sense of gathering menace. There are good performances by Sacramento regulars Brandon Lancaster (John Proctor), Lynn Baker (Elizabeth Proctor), Devon La Bar (the teenage Abigail Williams), Don Hayden (the egotistical Deputy-Governor Danforth) and Jim Lane (Francis Nurse).