Off-Broadway Review: Bedlam’s “The Crucible” at The Connelly Theater (Through Sunday December 29, 2019)
Off-Broadway Review: Bedlam’s “The Crucible” at The Connelly Theater (Through Sunday December 29, 2019) By Arthur Miller Directed by Eric Tucker Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza Theatre Reviews Limited
Bedlam is back, creating all the bedlam needed to lift “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller to a new level, making it one of the most exciting and poignant productions of this classic play to hit New York stages. The chaos begins when you enter the theater. You are seated in the waiting area on various wooden chairs that surround an old bed, with one wall covered by a large mirror with scripture scrawled on it in red writing. You are escorted to your seat once the house is open and realize the audience is placed onstage behind the proscenium and the playing area is on the floor where the audience would usually view a performance. When the performance begins a black drape is lowered to reveal the waiting area you were just in and the cast assembled in a stoic vignette that resembles the characters in a Grant Wood painting. This is the first scene which is exaggerated puritanism at its best, seriously precise, never cracking a smile, stagnant, remaining quiet and calm except for the animated facial antics of Abagail (a devilishly innocent Truett Felt) and the fanatic outbursts of sweeping by the black slave Tituba (a mystical Shirine Babb).
There is no need to explain the details of the plot of this well- known classic, but a quick review might help. Young girls from the town are seen dancing in the woods and are accused of being possessed because of some type of witchcraft ritual. It is the story of Abagail who convinces the other girls to comply. Abagail has been dismissed as a servant, from the well-respected home of Goody Proctor only to find out the reason being she had an affair with Goody’s husband John Proctor. The Reverend John Hale (an intense Eric Tucker) is called upon to investigate the accusations. Goody Proctor (a sensitive Susannah Millonzi) is accused of being part of the Devil’s pact and is incarcerated. John Proctor, pleads with Abagail to revoke her accusations, threatens to expose her and then reveals the affair in order to discredit her story and free his wife. Goody denies the affair to save John. It is a tale of deception, infidelity, power, control and injustice.
Mr. Tucker directs the ensemble with a fluid precision that sets the stage in motion for a fast and fierce telling of a compelling story with minimal assistance from elaborate sets or props. Scene changes usually occur by rearranging a few tables and chairs to resemble many different locations so seamlessly that it almost begins to feel like part of the dialogue. Actors move in and out of the playing area in choreographed motion sometimes so close they may brush up against the leg of a seated audience member enhancing the intimate thrill of the production. The cast is fearless, and the ensemble is impeccable never missing a beat or an opportunity to evoke the emotions at the core of their character. The dialogue, movement and lighting appear to be a theatrical symphony, all working closely together to produce a harmonious performance. The result is stunning.
As Bedlam often demonstrates this is an impressive example of what has become a mantra of the company. It constructs classic theater in a most complicated yet simple manner which is both beneficial to the interpretation of the script while providing a special form of entertainment for their audience. This production fills the events of the Salem Witch Trials with overwhelming sensitivity and compassion for the accused and convicted while exposing the inequitable actions of religious and justice systems. It is a not to be missed theatrical event of the season which will satisfy even the most discerning theatre goer and a treat for devoted enthusiasts of playwright Arthur Miller.
The cast of “The Crucible” includes Alan Altschuler, Shirine Babb, Rajesh Bose, Truett Felt, Caroline Grogan, Paul Lazar, Susannah Millonzi, Arash Mokhtar, Ryan Quinn, Randolph Curtis Rand, Zuzanna Szadkowski, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, John Terry and Eric Tucker.
“The Crucible” has scenic design by John McDermott, costume design by Charlotte Palmer-Lane, lighting design by Les Dickert, and casting by Eisenberg and Beans Casting.
“The Crucible” plays at The Connelly Theater (220 East 4th Street) Through Sunday December 29, 2019 on the following performance schedule: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Please note there will be no performances Tuesday, December 24 at 8:00 p.m. or Wednesday, December 25 at 2:00 p.m. There will be an added performance on Monday, December 23 at 8:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit https://bedlam.org/. Running time is 3 hours including a 15-minute intermission.
Photo: The cast of Bedlam’s “The Crucible.” Credit: Ashley Garrett.
Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Tuesday, December 10, 2019