Nothing feels more unjust than a wrongful accusation. And there’s nothing worse than seeing someone pay for something they haven’t done.
At The Keegan Theatre right now, you can have a front row seat to squirm through just that sort of thing. In The Crucible, love-struck troublemaker Abigail Williams is out to win her man (John Proctor), whatever it takes. One little problem; John is married, and is trying to patch things up with his wife, the pure and righteous Elizabeth.
Add Tituba, a maid from Barbados with a penchant for voodoo; Reverend Parris, Abigail’s holier-than-thou preacher uncle who wants to know what his daughter and niece were doing dancing (naked?!) in the forest; some finger pointing; and the setting — Massachusetts, 1692 — and you’ve got the makings of a true nail-biter.
The Crucible is not an easy play, and the Keegan cast does a lovely job; notable standouts were the stalwart Giles Corey (played by Timothy Hayes Lynch), the edgy and nervy Mary Warren (Emily Riehl-Bedford), the powerful and misguided Deputy Governor Danforth (Kevin Adams) and the love-to-hate-him then hate-to-love-him Reverend John Hale (Kevin Hasser), as well as the group of accusing girls in the second act.
And in spite of the tense subject matter, the cast even elicited giggles from the audience. Maybe this sort of thing — absurd accusations, too unbelievable to be true — is funny at the start. But by the second act, the impulse to intervene on behalf of the imperfect, but innocent characters is overwhelming.
It’s no accident that we as audience members feel the urge to jump up and yell, “STOP!” Arthur Miller wrote the Crucible in the late 1950s, in the McCarthy-era, as an allegory to the veritable anti-communist witch hunt; he, himself, was a target. But there’s just something about a witch hunt that always rings true, no? I found myself thinking about Troy Davis, recently put to death in Georgia for crimes he claimed he did not commit. We may never know if he did it or not, but it doesn’t feel good to wonder.
If you haven’t dropped by to see a show at Keegan, this would be a wonderful opportunity. Tucked in a residential block (on Church Street NW between 17th and 18th Streets NW), it’s a lovely theatre, and if witch hunts aren’t your thing, they’ve got a full season ahead.