Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: (Toronto) The Crucible

Justice and Faith
Ryerson brings energy to Miller's classic
by Beat Rice

This week, Ryerson Theatre School presents Arthur Miller’s Tony award winning play about the Salem witch trials, The Crucible. When a group of girls are found dancing in the forest at night, tales of witchcraft and accusations begin to take over the town. Soon women are arrested and tried, and the people of Salem are forced to choose between saving themselves and making sacrifices for what is just.

The cast of eighteen, comprised of the fourth year acting students, put on an engaging performance directed by Lee Wilson. Wilson directs with a quick pace, and with a strong understanding of the urgency and stakes of the characters and the trials. The run time of two and a half hours was hardly noticeable in the small studio theatre.

We see and experience the reactions of the town, but no actual practice of witchcraft.

There is a lot of talent in the ensemble. Shout outs to Andrew Laurie as the emotionally torn John Proctor, Kirsten Harvey as the manipulative Abigail Williams, and Phillipe Van de Maele Martin as Deputy Governor Danforth, whose sharp delivery and energy propelled the second act.

The production was also designed and built by students of the theatre school. J.T. Pickering’s haunting sound design complemented and never overpowered the piece. Unfortunately the costumes fell short of convincing. Abigail appears in an inexplicably sleeveless dress, something non-existent for women in the late 1600’s. The set, designed by Hannah Cherrett, uses latticework and a wall that becomes translucent when lit from behind. It was used very effectively for the opening sequence and in other scenes in which it is the unseen that is important. We see and experience the reactions of the town, but no actual practice of witchcraft. This leads us to question what is justice, and how do we judge one’s faith? If you are interested in young talent and plays that provoke, then this is the show for you.

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