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Review: Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE at Ephrata Performing Arts Center

The events of the 1690's witch trials interpreted through a 1950's script is just as relevant and important in 2022, as It was then.

Review: Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE at Ephrata Performing Arts Center

EPAC's current production of The Crucible examines a classic show through a modern lens. The events of the 1690's witch trials interpreted through a 1950's script is just as relevant and important in 2022, as It was then.

Tim Riggs stars as John Proctor, the righteous, yet imperfect farmer and husband. Riggs has a world-weariness about him. He stoops his shoulders, has a tired look and lets out a sigh now and then. He is a man exhausted by an unjust society. How many of us in 2022 are emotionally wiped out by a lack of progress and compassion from our leaders? Riggs captures this emotion effectively in the show.

Rachel Faust plays Abigail Williams, the villainess of the piece. Faust is highly expressive and intense. She drips venom in her interactions with her fellow girls, as well as the elders of the town. I would have liked to see her turn on the charm and innocence a little more. Mr. Hyde is more scary because he hides deep within Dr. Jekyll.

Speaking of scary, there are some genuinely unsettling elements of the show. The courthouse scene involving the "possession" of the girls was chilling. So was the first appearance of the guards decked out in sunglasses and assault weapons . The dissonant piano music that was sprinkled in throughout the show was dreadful, in the most authentic sense of the word.

In a show of over 25 cast members, I do not have the space to mention each actor with the recognition that they deserve, but I will highlight a few of my personal favorites.

John Kliemo was a delight as the irascible Giles Corey. His contributions as the comic relief was well-received in this otherwise very somber piece. Megan Riggs plays Elizabeth Proctor with both sympathy and dignity. My heart went out to her as in role as a victim of circumstance.

Jordon Ross Weinhold steps in as a stern Reverend Hale. Weinhold is proof that the comedic actors have the best understanding of tragedy.

Elizabeth Pattey (Judge Danforth) and Michael Roman (Tituba) were both outstanding in their roles. I had some initial reservations about each of them playing characters of the opposite gender without it being a distraction. I am pleased to say that they were perfect in their roles, which is a credit to not only their talents, but the effective casting choices of director, Ed Fernandez.

Both costumes and sets for this show could be described as abstract and non-traditional. The set has a lot of concrete, marble, and pillars with a dozen or so images of crosses adorning the stage. Costumes were similar in color and form based on the class of the character. Authority figures wore dark, bland, militia-type garb. The girls wore green dresses and bandanas ala The Handmaid's Tale. Others wore scarlet, perhaps suggesting their inevitable roles as martyrs.

The alternative set and costumes choices were interesting, but I don't necessarily think they were crucial to the appreciation and understanding of the story. I was more appreciative of EPAC's aesthetic choices in their recent production of Hedda Gabler.

The Crucible is a timeless story of the dangers of authority, the problems with the over-reliance of religion, and the value of self-integrity. EPACs production highlights these themes through an compelling story and a high quality production.


From This Author - Rich Mehrenberg

Rich Mehrenberg was introduced to the magic of theater when he played "The Boy" in his first grade class production of "The Giving Tree". It has been a long term love affair ever... (read more about this author)

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