NRACT Teens Breathe New Life Into Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”
Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” is filled with beautiful language, timeless themes, and lots of room for interpretation from the brave actors and directors who choose to put their own spins on the classic play and its richly developed characters. The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre “spin,” as directed by Beth Brody, offers fresh insight into some of the oft-underplayed characters and, by utilizing a young cast, imbues the play with humor and energy without detracting from the serious subject matter. For those who haven’t seen or read Miller’s work, it centers on a group of young girls who begin pointing fingers at local townspeople and deeming them “witches.” Since the year is 1692, such accusations carry with them the possibility of death for the accused, yet, for the most part, the girls care only about their own selfish wants. One of the accusers, Abigail Williams (Lydia Nethercutt), has a particular selfish want in mind—she’s set on acquiring her once-lover, the married John Proctor (Liam Yates). As the girls get wrapped up in the hysteria of the situation, the town is thrown into a frenzied spiral of blame, guilt, accusation, and ultimately, chaos, and the story culminates with several of the characters, including Proctor and his wife, having to make a decision about whether to protect their honor or their lives.
NRACT utilizes an effective minimalist set for this production, but that’s the only thing minimalist about it. From the roaring beginning—a lively, stomping version of the famous opening scene in which the soon-to-be accusers dance around a fire and commune with the devil—to the bittersweet end, NRACT pulls out all the stops.
What is perhaps most impressive, however, is that director Beth Brody has managed to coach incredibly skilled performances from her young cast; it is clear that each cast member clearly understands the words he or she speaks, in addition to understanding the character being portrayed as well—understanding this material and understanding it well enough to bring these complex characters to life is quite a feat, especially for high school age students, so major kudos are in order.
Nethercutt is particularly good in her role as the ill-tempered Abigail; she brings intensity to the character and manages to make her somewhat pitiable, if not likeable. In his role as the unfaithful husband seeking to amends, both with himself and his wife, Yates seems wiser than his years. Other standouts include Seth Colby’s believably “old” and hysterical rendering of Giles Corey, Elin Waring’s sage and sobering portrayal of Rebecca Nurse, and Eilish Urgo’s heartfelt but sassy take on Mary Warren, the one accuser who tries to take back her words but ultimately finds that doing so is not so easy.
NRACT’s “The Crucible” is sure to be an excellent viewing experience for longtime fans of the play, for those studying it in school, or even for those who have yet to be exposed to this beautiful work. As an added bonus, its witches and mentions of the devil make it a perfect way to start the fall/Halloween season.
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre Teens presents THE CRUCIBLE at 8 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28 and 3 p.m. Sept. 29 at NRACT, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $5-$15 Friday-Saturday and $10 on Sunday.
2013-14 SEASON: http://www.nract.org/upcoming-productions.
The Crucible (1953 drama): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.us.penguingroup.com/static/pdf/teachersguides/crucible.pdf (Penguin Group).
Arthur Miller (American playwright, 1915-2005): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Miller (Wikipedia).
Beth Brody (director): https://www.facebook.com/beth.brody.3 (Facebook bio).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.