Clarance Brown “Crucible”: The Play Itself

The Crucible wrapped up its performance Oct. 16. This post is a follow up to my last post covering context. Here I talk about the cast and the story.

The cast did an excellent job, especially given they were trying to perform with period accents, neither modern northern nor modern southern. Some sounded slightly different, as with Mary Warren, who came off as more Irish than the others, but all came off showing real emotion rather than just trying to master accents.

John Proctor was troubled yet relatable. His wife was strong too. Giles Corey and Tituba came off as lovably crazy while not clashing with the dark tone.

The set at the Carousel Theatre was also distinctive, surrounding the audience with an autumnal forest.

As far as the script goes, the play’s greatest weakness is tied up with its greatest strengths. While a classic, the script is not perfect because no script is.

Arthur Miller, himself an adulterer, knew how to write married couples with infidelity issues, especially the cheated-on wives. Here as in Death of a Salesman, the wife, in this case Elizabeth Proctor, is sympathetic. The other woman, here Abigail Williams and there ┬ácalled “the woman” is not a major focus of the scenes on stage, even if in the case of “The Crucible,” it’s what gets the plot going. For an adulterer to write in such a way about adultery, with a focus on the victim, shows a great level of sympathy and thoughtfulness on Miller’s part.

It becomes a weakness, however, because Abigail’s actions are so drastic that they might need more explanation. She apparently wants John Proctor so much she’s willing to kill his wife. What was their relationship really like? We don’t know because within the playshe’s there to set off Proctor’s guilt, and he’s already closed their relationship long ago.

A focus on Abigail, however, might have thrown the play off focus, preventing it from focusing on John and Goody Proctor. It’s an all too common kind of trade-off.

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