Katie Todd of The Willamette Week says our production of The Crucial gave her goose-bumps! Read the review below or online here!
It’s Saturday night at Hillsboro’s Venetian Theatre, and it’s hard to say whether it’s the plunging darkness or the sound of crickets—or just the imminent potential for witch burnings—that’s upping the creep factor in the room. As the audience sits in , voices slowly start to chatter, at first whispering, then hissing and singing names in a repetitive, foreboding chant. These are the first few minutes of Bag & Baggage’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and if there’s one thing they immediately do, it’s create an atmosphere of fear and tension. Set in 1692 in Salem, Mass., Miller’s famous 1953 play—an allegory of McCarthyism—follows villagers as they run wild with rumors of witchcraft, falsely accusing their friends and neighbors until hundreds are wrongly executed for practicing the dark arts. Director Scott Palmer’s version is handily aided by an inventive set: The action takes place in front of a screen that obscures an eerie courtroom-like space behind it. The interpretation of the text is appropriately chaotic, with characters screaming and spitting lines at each other in a snowballing jumble for much of the play. The howls are occasionally deafening to the point of nonsensical, sometimes making it hard to focus or even to make out Miller’s words. But with creepily voyeuristic stage design, and a fantastic cast—especially Peter Schuyler, who barrels around the stage as Jon Proctor like a righteous bear—this Crucible easily conveys a feeling of frenzy and dread, right down to a goosebump-raising final line that rings out over the jury—excuse me—audience.