PLAY REVIEW: Diverse cast brings past to present in ‘The Crucible’

Witchcraft, accusations, condemnation and execution are just some of the themes explored in State College Community Theatre’s presentation of “The Crucible” at the State Theatre in State College.

Written by Arthur Miller and first performed in 1953, the 17th-century drama stars Samuel Reitman as John Proctor and Jordan Santillo as Abigail Williams, the show’s protagonist and antagonist. Supporting them are Stacy Sublett as The Rev. Samuel Parris, Luke Miller as The Rev. John Hale, Lori Wilson as Elizabeth Proctor and many others.

The setting for this gripping drama is colonial Salem, Mass., between February 1692 and May 1693. During this time, the Salem witch trials accused and prosecuted some people of witchcraft. The story mainly focuses upon a young farmer, Proctor, his wife Elizabeth, and Abigail, the Proctors’ servant, who purposefully causes the wife’s arrest for witchcraft. After Proctor brings the girl to court, he finds himself a victim of this accusation and eventually is condemned and hanged.

Altogether, more than 150 people were arrested for witchcraft and imprisoned, with even more accused people who were not formally pursued by the authorities. The story of innocent people being accused and convicted on untrustworthy evidence has secured its place in the cultural imagination of the United States.

“The Crucible” served as a cautionary tale in response to McCarthyism in the 1950s, but this play still has relevance today in a society that is often quick to judge and too politically correct. This story teaches us a simple moral lesson that people are innocent until proven guilty.

An epilogue to the play was read as a timeline of events, which put the “The Crucible” in a historical context.

I found the actors to be well-chosen for their roles and the directing to be very meticulous. The actors were well-prepared for their parts and were very convincing. They seemed to be focused, professional and authentic.

I often found myself wrapped up in the characters and in the emotions they displayed to the audience to the point of feeling like I was actually in Salem, Mass., in 1692.