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Theater Review: Insurgo makes ‘The Crucible’ relevant again

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Witch way is up? A publicity still from The Crucible by Insurgo’s Ensemble.
Molly O'Donnell

Just as the November chill settles in, Insurgo’s Ensemble brings us the icy Puritans of The Crucible, who despite the pilgrim garb aren’t the same smiling faces appearing on grocery store displays this week. Arthur Miller’s most-produced play, The Crucible investigates groupthink by treating the notorious Salem witch trials as an allegory for McCarthyism. Whatever the play’s strengths, it’s important to note the truth of what my Dad observed after seeing my high school’s production of it: “It’s really long.” When a production of the play comes along that makes you forget your aching backside, it’s worth the trek and the two plus hours. Insurgo’s does just that.

The Details

The Crucible
four stars
Through December 4,
Friday & Saturday, 8 p.m., $15-$20.
Bastard Theater, 771-7331.

The ever-bombastic Ernie Curcio fits the reformed adulterer John Proctor as much as the diminutive and dynamic Breon Jenay (Abigail) suits his stature. It is the scoundrels, however, who are difficult to cast, which is part of what makes director Daneal Doerr’s choices so impressive. Michael Drake sinks the reviled Parris to new depths with his sniveling, as Brandon McClenahan articulates hypocrisy’s marriage to villainy exquisitely in Danforth. Stacia Zinkevich (Elizabeth Proctor) deserves praise for her elegant restraint, but occasionally lets that restraint get the better of her projection. This is probably amplified by all the screaming in the rest of the play. The decibel variability and some lighting snafus make the production short of flawless, but when a play written more than 50 years ago under completely different political circumstances can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention, it’s hard to say you wished you’d spent the night in front of the TV.

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