Annandale High School
Arthur Miller's 1953 play "The Crucible" is unquestionably an important part of American history. High-schoolers across America read it as part of their class curriculum, analyzing it and the subject of its allegory, the HUAC hearings and McCarthyism. At its core, "The Crucible" exposes the hypocrisy and arbitrary reasoning of authority, and shows us the dangers of not stopping to question the powers that be. Director R.L Mirabal and Lake Braddock Secondary School Theatre know that this message is especially relevant to the America of today, perhaps more than ever, and have presented a hauntingly powerful rendition of this classic play.
Amid a whirlwind of accusations, executions, and false confessions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony town of Salem, one man stands resolute: John Proctor, a local farmer, and something of a rebel. Dylan Gottlieb portrayed this character with a befitting air of dignity and simple honesty, but when provoked, he was consumed with a harsh, fiery rage. However, it was when Proctor was at his lowest that Gottlieb truly shone. With a ragged voice that shook with grief and a thorough knowledge of his own impotence in the face of injustice, Gottlieb shook the audience to its core.
Abigail Williams, the ringleader of the "Afflicted Girls" who orchestrated the witch hunt, was played by a fierce Kim Salac. Salac came across as cunning and desperate, whether it be through the tenuous grace with which she handled others directly, or through her vigilance when it seemed no one was paying attention to her.
The Reverend John Hale (Tim Ellis) an expert in witchcraft and demonology was sent to assist with the proceedings in Salem. His mild manner and thoughtful maturity meshed well with his role, as well as to the overall sense of realism. Madison Hite as the Proctors' housemaid Mary Warren was both restrained and explosive with her temperament, shifting easily from quivering, barely able to contain her tears, to all-out bawling. Nalani Mason handled her brief role as Tituba, Reverend Parris' Barbadian slave, with a set of striking mannerisms that rang true to the battered state of her character. Another minor character was Goodwife Rebecca Nurse, played by Diana Sudak, who struck the audience with her air of respectability, which made it even more funny when certain humorous lines were delivered straight.
The set, designed by Diana Sudak, incorporated a set of platforms on either side of the stage, creating levels that emphasized the power of individual characters in each scene. A set of stained glass windows hung overhead, illuminating the proceedings with the blinding light of the church. The color design all throughout was internally consistent, with costumes (impeccably researched and designed by Emily Smith), lights (designed by Natalie Hill), and set—all complimenting each other. The intricate makeup (designed by Natalie Carreiro) that detailed age and wear with stunning precision was easily the highlight of the technical aspects. Carreiro made complicated makeup changes between the second and third acts, and employed false mustaches and beards made of actual human hair.
At the end of an emotionally charged 3-hour long play, one is left both awed and exhausted. However, in the time following the performance, one is left to ruminate on what one can do in the face of injustice. It is here where Lake Braddock Secondary School Theatre truly succeeds- inspiring action from what may well have remained inaction.
Montgomery Blair High School
Lake Braddock's The Crucible, horrifically pertinent in our day and age, demonstrates the raw power of fear-mongering and division.
The Crucible was written in 1953 amidst the anxiety and paranoia of the McCarthy Era. Loosely based on stories from the Salem Witch Trials in the late 17th century, the Crucible tells the story of a town driven into frenzy by a group of young girls who claim they can see spirits. Much like the McCarthy trials, the girls sit amongst the court and titter and scream accusations of witchcraft at whomever they please. The cast and crew captured the solemn intensity of the story and brought the desperation of the era to life.
Dylan Gottlieb starred as Mr. John Proctor, the only man in town who tries to invalidate the "afflicted" girls' claims. With a hypnotic drawl, Gottlieb embodied Proctor's effortless steadiness and grounded character. Gottleib's performance utilized a highly mature emotional subtlety that made Proctor human. However, there is no story without the infamous Abigail Williams and her conniving, manipulative ways. Kim Salac was nothing short of terrifying as Williams. The contrast between her demon screeches and loving whispers to Proctor was astounding.
Tim Ellis was a stand-out as the gentle, kind-hearted Reverend John Hale. J. Carlin Decker III was similarly extraordinary as the formidable Governor Thomas Danforth. Decker masterfully expressed the maturity and seriousness expected of a Governor. Nalani Mason was heartbreaking as Tituba. Other notable performances include Roger Clanton as Reverend Paris, Diana Sudak as Rebecca Nurse, and Erin Rose Coughlan as Elizabeth Proctor.
The design elements of the show contributed to the eerie tragedy of the performance. Natalie Hill's stunning light design painted beautiful sunsets across the stage and, by playing with depth and color, created a distinct sense of time and place throughout the show such as cool nighttime in the woods, and intimate evenings in the Proctor cabin. Additionally, the makeup designed by Natalie Carreiro completely and convincingly transformed the cast into liver-spotted, mustachioed judges and white-haired farmers. Many of the cast members are barely recognizable from their photos in the program. The set, designed by Diana Sudak, featured elegant stained-glass windows and a looming cross, a reminder of the ever-present, and foreboding presence of religion in the story. Although the play calls for an intensity and significance, the performance could have benefitted from picking up the pace and some variation in tone.
Lake Braddock's production of The Crucible was profound.