Total Rating: 
August 31, 2017
September 10, 2017
Two Chairs Theater Company
Theater Type: 
The Players Center
Theater Address: 
838 North Tamiami Trail
Running Time: 
2 hrs
Arthur Miller
Elliott Raines

At the end of a 2017 hot, steamy Sarasota summer comes the chilling experience of a travesty of justice in Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible not only concentrates on its dictionary-defined trial. The play also “means” a great container that can resist heat to contain hard, molten material. Miller’s hard material is a society made of many elements: quick to accuse, even to kill for power and profit over its enemies, to make its insular policies prevail and punish all who do not obey or enforce its severe orthodoxy if only by association.

Elliott Raines’s direction penetrates each bit of Miller’s dramatic material of “guilt by accusation of Witchcraft” as an allegory. Miller aimed it at the McCarthy anti-Communist scare of the 1950s, though society may still notably be permitting accusations against those who are “different” or not mainstream.

Raines’s policy of presenting pared-down scenery—plain but solid wood doors, table and chairs, rows of court benches, a judiciary table with black backdrop—here bespeaks the Puritan atmosphere of Salem.

Almost all of Donna DeFant’s costumes are symbolically, as well as period-consciously, black or dark brown set off with starched white. Tragic hero John Proctor (Kevin Sario, a real professional) has brown and faded rose country clothes. His wife Elizabeth (Carrie McQueen, able to convey a profound change personally and toward him), is mainly in blue. Lynne Doyle as the unflinching best of the good people, Rebecca Nurse, wears grey.

As Abigail, the chief accuser among the young girls who had danced naked to a frenzy on a forest night, Brianna Larson never misses listening for anything she must deny or affirm. She conveys jealousy of Elizabeth and surety about her ability to renew a relationship with John Proctor with cunning. Lauren Ward’s pitiable Mary Warren proves almost able to prove Abigail false, but the other girls add to Mary’s isolation.

Kimberland Jackson may be the best Tituba, the Barbados native called on by Abigail to start a devilish ritual, I’ve ever seen: authentic, scared but not super-silly about it. In the excellent male cast, Allen Kretschmar further stands out as Deputy Gov. Thomas Danforth, the judge from hell. He commands not only his kangaroo court but—every time he appears on it—the stage.

Daniel Polk’s lighting effectively helps change scenes as well as illuminates the action. Darkness appropriately prevails. Whoever is responsible for make-up deserves special praise for aiding Dylan Jones’s troubling facial expression as the right religious Rev. John Hale and the effect of imprisonment on Kevin Sario’s John Proctor. Different hair-dos help distinguish the young girl accusers.

Raines’s Two Chairs Company continues to bring the best of the literary dramas of America’s past to us. It’s not the usual summer fare, but it certainly deserves being in summer's crucible.

Paul Hutchinson, Kimberland Jackson, Brianna Larson, Alyssa Hargreaves, Kathi Faulkner, Joshua Brin, Kassandra Moore, Laura McKenna, Lauren Ward, Kevin Sario, Jay Bowman, Donna DeFant, Lynne Doyle, Tom Aposporos, Dylan Jones, Carrie McQueen, Chris Hines, Jeff Cima, Rik Robertson, Allen Kretschmar
Costumes: Donna DeFant; Tech. Director: Ken Junkins; Lighting: Daniel Polk; Props: Donna Labik, Martha Kesler; Stage Mgr: Patty Snyder-Atkins
Marie J. Kilker
Date Reviewed: 
August 2017