Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Manassas Park High School The Crucible

By • Feb 25th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

In a town governed by religious austerity, the desire to avoid punishment can push a person so far as to ruin the lives of others. Is your friend and neighbor really a witch or is she just lying to save herself from an unfortunate accusation? At what point is saving your life worth abandoning your honesty and pride? Manassas Park High School tackled these challenging questions in their production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Inspired by McCarthyism, the strong anti-communist suspicions and accusations of the 1950s, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible tells the story of the inconsistencies of the famous 1692 Salem Witch Trials. When a group of young Puritan girls are caught dancing in the woods and attempting to conjure spirits, they avoid the severe punishment of their community by accusing other Salem residents of practicing witchcraft. This finger-pointing multiplies and multiplies until mass fear and paranoia runs through the Salem community.

The cast of The Crucible exhibited commendable efforts in reaching the emotional levels of this show. Although the pace was often too quick or too slow and some important moments were lost, the chemistry of the cast members was strong. With a show notable for its realistic, identifiable characters, the cast understood the nature of the play and strived to reach the demanding artistic levels of this production.

Mauricio Marces took on the daunting role of John Proctor, the lecherous but sincerely remorseful farmer who tries to bring the discrepancies of the witch accusations to attention. Committed to the emotional final collapse of his character, Marces demonstrated the tumultuous confusion and strife of Proctor. By his side was his wife Elizabeth Proctor, played by the calm and collected Brittany Bess. Bess captured the strong-hearted, religious devoutness of Elizabeth Proctor with relaxed sincerity.

Other standouts on the Manassas Park stage included Jacob Frazier as Rev. Hale and Shanna Bess as Tituba. Frazier retained the strong presence of his character throughout the show, yet still displayed a believably heartfelt breakdown as the climax unfolded. Bess, with a realistic Caribbean accent, was dedicated to the various emotional states of her character.

The set, a basic two-level structure designed by Alyssa Robinson, Eric Steinmark, Shannon Swanson, and Jessica Conway, was slightly barren but complimented the multiple scene locations. The costumes, designed by Jessica Fields and a team of fashion students, featured some historical inaccuracies but were nicely constructed and overall supportive to the show.

Raising questions about the boundless cycle of distrust and accusation, Manassas Park High School’s The Crucible was moving, enlightening, and thought-provoking.

by Lindsay Thomas of Westfield

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