Seven Shades of Brilliant
Let’s be honest, a little bit of witch hunting has never hurt anyone, has it? Aside from authentic witches, that is.
Arthur Miller’s timeless and captivating drama gets prolific polish from Soulpepper Theatre Company establishing The Crucible as summer 2014’s most perfect, unforgettable theatre experience. In doing so, the provocative masterpiece continues to speak to succeeding generations with relentless clarity.
Relying on the names of actual participants of the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s, The Crucible is accepted by many as a universal allegory that was later witnessed in the 1950s when ‘naming names’ to root out communists was the McCarthy tactic of choice in protecting a nation.
Yet there’s something about the story’s provocative lesson of dogmatism, reprisal and mass hysteria that has a psyche stirring effect. Director Albert Schultz is well aware that the more times change, they more they painfully stay the same. He responds with an efficient staging that results in a tightrope walk between squirm fest and morality play.
Stuart Hughes is seven shades of brilliant as John Proctor, a virtuous a man of the soil consumed by pain and courage to preserve his reputation in the midst of injustice. The actor turns in a performance of such subtlety and strength that mirrors Dora Award material of yesteryear.
Equally mesmerizing is Joseph Ziegler’s Deputy Governor Danforth stuck between a rock and hard place in the character’s attempt to separate lies from truth. Ziegler is a performer that oozes with a natural form of honour and duty when his role calls for such and leaves the impression something greater than acting is occurring.
There’s always been an abundance of ‘great pretenders’ amongst us with the will to cause injury to others. Religion and politics are merciless in their societal sanitization exercises making Arthur Miller’s crackling magnum opus persuasively showing how inseparable the two forces can be.
Review by Steven Berketo