When it comes to live theatre it’s always a treat to find productions of classic plays or see performances from talented actors or to be moved by the intense subject matter of a show. It’s rare to find a production that combines all of those elements, but the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s season opener The Crucible does just that. The play is perennial favorite, telling the story of the Salem witch trials while alluding to other moments of persecution in American history such as the 1950s Red Scare.
Set during 1692 at the height of the high-strung Puritan life style, the residents of Salem must decide if they will keep their heads down or if they will stand up for what’s right when the charge of witchcraft is shouted in the streets. The stark set and lighting paint the actors in black and white while the plot shows us shades of gray.
This is a show that explores a terrifying situation. When society is turned upside down and the lives of so many are being held in the hands of a liar how can you fight back? It asks the impossible question: which is more valuable, your life or your honor?
Three performers making their debuts at the IRT were particular standouts in a large all-around excellent cast. Elizabeth Laidlaw plays the stoic Elizabeth Proctor with a quiet strength. Her moral clarity provides a compass for her husband in the direst of moments. Isabel Ellison is the polar opposite as Abigail Williams. She creates a role that is both terrifying and mesmerizing as she ruins peoples’ lives like it’s a game and refuses to be shaken form her course. Finally we have Dennis Grimes’ heartbreaking portrayal of Rev. Hale. He is a man confronted with an unimaginable moral dilemma.
I recently read the following passage “Shakespeare’s plays, like all great works of art, are open to interpretation. That is the hallmark of art that has real value. If a work is static and never changes, then it can never tell us very much about how we change over our lifetimes, and how mankind changes over centuries.” I couldn’t help but think of that while seeing The Crucible. The play is set centuries in the past, but the atmosphere of fear and persecution is one that is present throughout history in different settings. It is a play that has remained relevant for decades because the mob mentality comes naturally to humans. It is art like this that allows us to hold a mirror up to society and see ourselves through its lens. Don’t miss the powerful production!
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. “The Crucible" runs until Sunday, October 13 on IRT's Main Stage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
Photos Courtesy of Zach Rosing and quote courtesy of Ken Ludwig