Students bewitched by NYU’s The Crucible

by Katherine Capulong, staff reporter

On March 4th, students attended a very raw performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the Province Playhouse in Manhattan, the actors all from the NYU troupe. Through the use of a small stage, few props, and McCarthy trial footage, the classic play was delivered in a raw, revitalized, and respectable fashion.
“It was really good.  They were really professional.  I was very impressed.  They were inspiring in the way they were talking and with their motions.  They showed their emotions when they needed too,” freshman Dean Zouvelos said.
The play began with footage from the McCarthy trials, and returned to another clip like it in between each scene.  This was a befitting reference to The Crucible as a social commentary on the hunt for communism of the time period it was written.

What were undertones, Courtney Smith as Abigail Williams made exaggerations.  Fortunately, Tommy Craven as Reverend Parris, a paranoid minister with his priorities out of order, was as dislikeable as the character was meant to be.  Poised and stern as written, he only had one unfortunate stumble through speech.

“[Abigail’s] face is still drilled into my head…The guy playing Reverend Parris kept stuttering and correcting himself,” freshman Stephanie Minassian said.

    Abigail was also too obvious in her private moment with John Proctor, shaking him as she went on about him clutching her back like a stallion.  The most authentic actor was Katie Ann McDermott, who portrayed Elizabeth Proctor, through her accurate depiction of Elizabeth’s vulnerabilities but willingness to protect her adulterous husband.
Two of the male characters, Giles and Nurse, were played by women, Cara Arcuni and Melanie Ridgeway, respectively.  Ridgeway’s acting was weak but the actor with the role of Giles had a very strong sense of Giles’ regret and wanting to save his wife.
The use of the stage was very good considering the size.  It was kept simple, few props, mostly relying on the placement of the actors in each scene.  This was the most effective in the last scene the class was able to watch where Proctor, Giles, and Nurse beg for the release of their wives and Proctor admits to his lechery.  The girls stood accusatory higher above, Danforth sat in the center at a desk thinking he was keeping order, and Proctor directly opposite from the girls, and everyone else encircling Danforth like vultures.
However, some of the students disagreed and thought it was overly simple.
“It was too simple. They basically moved the furniture around,” freshman Jimmy Cressy said.
All in all, Philip Taylor’s direction was great, the acting seemed genuine, Abigail aside, and really could have just relied on the great original writing. But they did better than that and ended up adding to with the McCarthy videos and believable delivering of the lines and simplicity of the set.  Only an accusatory few saw the devil in the execution of the play.


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