"...we are only what we always were, but naked now. Aye, naked, and the wind, God's icy wind, will blow!"
"...vengeance is walking in Salem...the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law."
Sometimes the power of art, in this case the power of language, makes people capable of transcending their everyday existence.
Such is the case with Marquette Senior High School Drama Club's production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Director Marty Martello and his cast have put together a spare, honest, and powerful production of Miller's classic take on the Salem witch trials which raises the performers and their audience up into a realm of simple yet profound truth.
The production, which runs at Marquette's Kaufman Auditorium tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. features a large and enthusiastic cast, playing before simple black theatrical curtains, amidst plain rustic furniture designed and constructed by Martello. The only other adornment to the set are two prison windows which appear late in the play. The set itself is almost a play on words; it is simple and unvarnished like the truth about the dark underbelly of humanity depicted by Miller.
Costume designer Courtney Brown's primarily black and white puritan costumes add to the austerity of the production and help hint at the darkness and light possessing the world in this timeless morality play.
Jim Pennell's sound is flawless and clear and his lighting design subtly aids in the actors journey's through human corruption into ethereal light.
The play, as presented at Kaufman, features many memorable scenes from the opening tableau of the Rev. Paris at his daughter's bedside, to Tituba's dilemma, to Proctor's confrontation with Abigail in the forest, to the dramatic courtroom scenes, to the jailhouse revelations of the play's final moments. All are well developed and realized by cast and crew, from each individual line to each subtle, silent, and seamless scene change.
As John Proctor Noah Stephens-Brown has a commanding stage presence and manages this lead character's transformation from ordinary New England farmer to martyr to truth well.
As the founder of the troubles in Salem, Abigail Williams, Kelly Sprouse carries a constant undercurrent of evil which spills over impressively in the scene in the woods.
As Rev. Paris, Mike Ryan grows into this deeply flawed character throughout the performance.
Marianne Nezich as Elizabeth Proctor and Chase Wilkinson as the Rev. John Hale shine in the play's final scene.
Sam Carter's impressive physicals as Mary Warren are alternately implosive and explosive.
Katherine Wilkinson is impressive in her brief appearance as young Betty Paris.
Dawson McKenzie displays a diction and understanding of the text well beyond his years as Judge Danforth.
Likewise McCall Kochevar who disappears into the character of the aging, saintly Rebecca Nurse.
Kudos, kudos, kudos! To wildly promising freshman Maitri White whose work on dialect, character development, movement, and vocal power make her Tituba the most fully developed character in the play.
The scene with Tituba's special dilemma as a slave in Salem with White at the center and ingenious, symbolic blocking, lighting, and ensemble reaction surrounding her, is the most memorable moment in the play.
And speaking of the ensemble, this is a team of gifted young actors who are dedicated, and convincing as the village of Salem. Together, cast and crew make Miller's work, not so much a play about Salem, or about 1950s communist paranoia, but about the dark and light nature of Man now and forever.
Spring is finally here, so find your way after a day in the sun to the darkness and light of the human heart as depicted in "The Crucible" at 7 p.m. today at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette.
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.
EDITOR'S NOTE: B.G. Bradley is a high school English teacher, former Mining Journal columnist and reporter, and founder of the Westwood Shakespeare Company which will present a community theater version of "King Lear" beginning with Sept. 14-15 auditions at WHS.