The story begins when the Reverend Parris discovers several young women, including his daughter Betty and niece Abigail, dancing in the woods. Yes, dancing! Betty is afflicted by a strange illness that is blamed on the family's Barbadian slave who is accused of conjuring spirits. In what amounts to a harmless prank gone horribly wrong (never underestimate the power of teenage girls), the girls continue to accuse more and more people of witchcraft, who are given the option of confessing or hanging. The whole thing spirals out of control and Abigail soon accuses the wife of her former employer/lover John Proctor, an honest and well-respected woman. John attempts to defend his wife but is powerless against the mass hysteria that has overtaken the community. But somehow in the midst this devastating event, he's able to face the truth and become the best version of himself.*
|Mrs. and Mr. Proctor (Jamie White|
Jachimiec and James Napoleon Stone)
with a lurking Abigail (Kaylyn Forkey,
photo courtesy of Theatre Coup d'Etat)
Director Brian Joyce leads the large and capable cast, highlights of which include James Napoleon Stone as a strong and sympathetic John Proctor; Jamie White Jachimiec, whom I don't believe I've ever seen before but who truly impressed with her very real and heart-breaking performance as John's wife; Kaylyn Forkey as main accuser Abigail Williams; Lauren Diesch as the Proctor's employee Mary Warren who unsuccessfully tries to break free of the accusers; Charles Numrich as the unforgiving Governor Danforth; and Kevin Fanshaw as the minister John Hale who has second thoughts about his participation in the proceedings. All are appropriately dressed in long dresses and bonnets or short pants and jackets (costume design by A. Emily Heaney).
The Crucible continues at Zion Lutheran Church just off Snelling and University in St. Paul through December 19 - a well executed site-specific, intimate, and sobering production of a classic that's never felt more relevant and necessary.
*Plot summary borrowed from what I wrote about the Guthrie production last year.
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.